Words On Birds by Steve Grinley

Holiday Gift Suggestions to Enjoy Birds
December 05, 2015
By Steve Grinley

     It is time for my annual gift suggestions for the bird enthusiasts on your holiday list. Almost everyone enjoys birds, whether they travel afield to watch birds or just appreciate the ones in their backyard. Birds can also stimulate interest in nature for children, tearing them away, if only momentarily, from the electronic world.

     A bird feeder is a simple way to bring birds within reach. A bird feeder makes a great gift and can provide hours of entertainment for young and old alike. Even if someone has a bird feeder, they can always use another. 

     There are many types of feeders in all shapes and sizes. A simple tube feeder that holds sunflower or mixed seed is the most versatile. A tray can be added for cardinals or larger birds and the newest tube feeders have removable bases that make it so much easier to keep the feeders clean, thus making them healthier for the birds. Hopper-type feeders and open tray feeders come in long-lasting cedar and now in recycled materials that are eco-friendly and outlast wood. For more specific feeding, a thistle feeder or a suet feeder can add a diversity of birds to most yards.

     If squirrels are a problem, the Squirrel Buster feeders are the best squirrel-proof feeders (and I don’t use that term loosely) because they really work to keep squirrels from eating all your seed! The feeders come in all sizes and price range but in each the squirrel’s weight shuts off the food supply, frustrating them to the point of giving up. Squirrel Buster has a new mid-size Legacy feeder, and a new pole mounted Seed Tray to keep seed off the ground.

     For those who have enough feeders, a heated bird bath will draw more birds year ‘round. Even birds that don’t normally come to seed feeders will enjoy the availability of fresh, unfrozen water in the middle of winter. Bird baths can be free standing or may be mounted on a pole or a deck.

     For folks on your list that don’t want the task of filling a feeder or bird bath, a bird house is relatively maintenance free. Houses can be put up in winter as the birds will use them to roost in at night to get out of the elements. The house will then be up and available for spring nesting. Houses come in all shapes and sizes, from plain pine or cedar wood to cleverly painted ones with copper or shingled roofs. There are also specific winter roost houses that have the entrance hole near the bottom to retain heat and multiple perches inside for the birds to huddle together during cold winter nights.

     A general field guide is always a good gift to help identify the birds that are seen. Peterson, Sibley, and Stokes Guides provide for easy There are many other excellent books on birds and birding including one from local birder, Doug Chickering. Doug’s Reflections on a Golden-winged Warbler is a collection of short stories which draw you into the local birding experience. 

     To help someone learn bird songs, there are many Bird Song CDs and DVDs to choose from. Even simpler is the new Identiflyer Lyric with song cards to help you identify the more common birds with the push of a button. In one mode it plays just the song. In the other mode, it plays the song, tells you its name, and gives you a phrase or description to help you remember the song or call.

     With snowy owls and bald eagles being seen recently, a pair of binoculars or a spotting scope makes a great gift! Today’s binoculars are lighter and brighter than ever before and you don’t have to spend a lot of money for clear and close-up views of a snowy owl in the marshes of Plum Island, or an eagle soaring over the river. The better the optics, the better the view, but good quality binoculars and scopes are within most people’s budgets today. 

     If you want to give a gift that also helps the birds, how about a bag of Birds & Beans shade-grown coffee and a coffee mug with birds on it. This delicious coffee is grown on farms in Central and South America that don’t clear cut their trees, but leave them for many of our neotropical migrants, such as warblers, orioles, scarlet tanagers and thrushes, to enjoy during their winter stay.

     Then there are a wide array of gifts with bird motif’s on them. Seasonal gifts include Bird Calendars and Holiday cards and ornaments. Then there are bird prints, bird jigsaw puzzles, bird jewelry, bird T-shirts, night shirts, and tote bags. Thermometers, rain gauges, wind chimes and wind bells, cloth gift bags, towels and pot holders, keepsake boxes, notepads and wall decorations are all available with someone’s favorite cardinal, loon, or chickadee imprinted on it. 

     For children, there are several new games, including Bird Bingo, Bird Memory games and Bird Oragami. There are also plush birds and puppets, bird puzzles, and a number of great new bird books for children. 

     A gift membership to the Essex County Greenbelt, Trustees of Reservations or to Mass Audubon also makes a special gift. Our own Joppa Flats Audubon Center has numerous excellent programs that you could give as a gift to anyone who likes nature. Especially popular are the Wednesday morning and Saturday morning bird walks, tickets for which you can purchase in advance – they make great stocking stuffers! 

    Any gift that helps someone enjoy birds and nature is one that will surely be appreciated this holiday season and, likely, for years to come.

Steve Grinley
Bird Watcher’s Supply & Gift
Route 1 Traffic Circle
194 Route 1
Newburyport, MA 01950
Celebrating 2
4 years of service to the birding community! 
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