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Add bird and wildlife foods to your snowman to make this seasonal rite of passage fun and functional.
Keep Frosty chilled by building him on the shady north sides of buildings. “A lot of feeder birds need a perch,” says the DNR ’s Tim Gedler who not only manages Walnut Woods State Park, but is an avid birder. He advises adding twigs to the snowman.
To attract dark-eye juncos, white-throated sparrows, mourning doves and field sparrows, spread mixed seed on the ground. “They are ground feeders,” he says.
Use these tips to adorn your snowman with treats for birds and wildlife:
1. Peanuts provide a nutritious diet for birds,including black-capped chickadees, nuthatches, tufted titmice, woodpeckers, jays and cardinals. Unsalted brands are safe for birds. “Whole peanuts in the shell are absolutely the number one food for bluejays,” says Rick Crouch, owner of Wild Birds Unlimited in Davenport. Use peanuts for buttons and eyes.
2. "Carve out some niches to place chunks of suet,” says Gedler, or from sticks hang the high energy snack in onion sacks. Place suet high, out of reach of dogs. Don’t use bacon grease, which is too salty and full of preservatives, says Crouch,who adds that suet chunks make great teeth, eyes and ears for
3. Smear peanut butter onto an old corn cob to use for a nose. Also add to pine cones, then dip and roll the cone in seeds. Tie ribbon or twine to the cone to hang around the neck and arms.
4. Providing high oil and fat content is easy with black oil sunflower seed, which is less expensive and easier to crack and digest than the striped variety.
5. Dress your snowman with food strings of popcorn and cranberries to increase the food variety and attract colorful birds. Chickadees and nuthatches will feed on the popcorn,wintering robins, cedar waxwings, woodpeckers and cardinals will eat the cranberries, and blue jays will dine on both. Use
unsalted, unbuttered popcorn.
6. Load a wide-brimmed hat with sunflower seeds, raisins and cracked corn. A light colored hat will absorb less heat so Frosty can keep his cool.
This article originally appeared in the January/February 2007 issue of Iowa Outdoors magazine. For more info, check out our DIY Outdoors and Iowa Outdoors Magazine boards on Pinterest.