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San Angelo Lifestyles

Winter Birding

If you're like many of us warm-blooded West Texans, you might think winter is, well, for the birds. And you're right. Not all birds migrate during the year's coldest months. Some - like woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees, cardinals, bluejays, and more - stay right at home year-round. Others might even make a surprise stop, straying from their typical territory. And the leaf-less trees make these birds stand out in the winter perhaps more than any other time of year.

H.C. Summers Feed and Supply has some great tips on how to make the most of your newfound outdoor hobby:

1. Be Prepared
Although wintry weather isn't commonplace in West Texas, on the rare occasion daytime temperatures do dip below the 50s, dress accordingly. Wear layers, including thermal ones. Boots should be comfortable and tall enough to take the trails and - again, on the rare occasion the terrain gets icy - should have good tread for solid footing. Gloves should be thin enough to handle binoculars and field guides; fingerless gloves are also a good option. Bring a thermos of your favorite warm beverage, and you're ready to take to the trails!

2. Go to the Right Places
Birds are easier to spot in places that fulfill their needs for food, water and shelter. Areas with fruit trees or seed-bearing flowers that still hold autumn produce are ideal, and any slow-moving river or marshy area that still has open water might be home to a variety of winter waterfowl. Try Christoval, the Concho River Downtown, or the San Angelo State Park.

3. Join Birding Events
Contact a local birding club or Audubon chapter for upcoming events,, and join the group for some spectacular winter birding and safe, socially distanced socialization, to boot!

4. Bring the Birds to You
If you're still not keen on weathering the winter, it's not difficult to attract birds to your own backyard. Purchase a feeder and a birdbath from your favorite local hardware store and fill the former with high-calorie treats such as suet, nuts, and sunflower seeds. Heat your birdbath to ensure the water doesn't freeze. And, if you haven't disposed of your Christmas tree or know someone who hasn't, it makes a great bird habitat and shelter. Sprinkle some seed under a patio table or deck, and leave bird houses up for overnight roosts.

Winter birding may not be quite as dazzling as the spring and summer when hummingbirds buzz about, but it's still a season you don't want to miss - or take for granted. 

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Digital Issue Winter 2020