But now, by turning November's yard work into a more environmentally friendly task, we can minimize the work and simultaneously help birds. Too good to be true? Nope! You'll save work. You'll save money. Birds will find the necessary natural winter resources for survival. And you'll enjoy your yard's increased bird population.
Here are my own practice-what-I-preach work-saving suggestions.
The result? Scattered leaf particles help the birds as well as the lawn, providing Mother Nature's natural organic fertilizer. Need I mention how much work and time this practice saves?
Third, let the flowers--in fact, your entire garden--go to seed, standing sentinel through the winter. You'll reap a double benefit. Consider, for example, a dense stand of coneflowers, black-eyed Susans, goldenrod, or asters. Left standing, their seed heads feed dozens of hungry birds with rich, natural nutrition. Goldfinches, juncos, cardinals, and winter sparrows can harvest the bounty through mid-winter. Again, you're feeding birds without the added expense of feeders and feed, following Mother Nature's manner of providing winter forage for her birds.
First, leave some leaves. Step aside from that compulsive behavior that demands a perfect leaf-free yard. Mother Nature never intended her resources to be neat and tidy--much less sterile. When every leaf is raked and bagged, every shred of natural food for hungry birds sits in those bags. Here's why: Birds find tiny insect eggs, larva, even dormant bugs tucked on the undersides of leaves or just at ground's surface, protected by fallen leaves. That's Mother Nature's way of serving up protein all winter long.
Rake and bag the leaves, and you steal away Mother Nature's daily nutrients for our feathered friends.
So, what to do with the leaves you leave? Rake--or blow--accumulated leaves under shrubs, around trees, next to a back fence, somewhere where birds feel safe to forage. Birds will reward you with their antics, rooting under and through leaves while devouring every tiny morsel hidden among them. You'll feed them without spending a dime on feeders or feed.
Second, after leaving some leaves, mow the rest. Instead of raking and bagging perfectly good leaf mulch and stacking it curbside to overfill the landfill, let the mower shred the leaves. Just as an aside, however, don't think you need a so-called "shredding" mower to do the job. All mowers shred leaves after a few passes over the accumulation.
At some point, of course, spring demands garden clean-up but then with the psychological "upper" of preparing for new beginnings.
For now, following Mother Nature's lead grants a win-win--for us and the birds.