Feeding and Watering the Birds

Art by Dean Crouser
Art by Dean Crouser

Winter around my part of the prairies is bitterly cold. Lately the daily high has only reached around -25C/-13F.
.
Therefore, to look out my frosty kitchen window and see birds busily grooming, drinking water from our de-iced bird bath, and pecking at seeds is quite astonishing. How they manage such cold is impressive. I feel like the least we can do is offer them some food and water!
.
The old lilac outside my kitchen window shelters a handmade bird feeding house (made by my eldest son when he was 12, with his dad). Up in the branches hang an old seed ball (too messy…) and a suet feeder (love these!). The daily entertainment and satisfaction my family gets from viewing the variety of local birds that come to feed and drink here is worth every penny.


ground-flicker-and-jayOffering a few peanuts is all it takes to get Blue Jays and Northern Flickers to visit my yard. Buying nuts in bulk helps keep costs down. After we get the huge bags home, we cut them open and pour into airtight (and rodent-proof) plastic bins and store them in the garage. I transfer a manageable supply to a couple of ‘upcycled’ yogurt containers to keep outdoors near the feeder.
.
water-de-icerThe de-icer was bought at a local wild bird store but I’ve seen them at Amazon and elsewhere. A Google search should bring up local sources for you. They range from $50-$100 but if you enjoy watching wildlife, it’s worth it. The water is more popular than the food! Finding an unfrozen source of drinking water is challenging for birds in this winter weather.

Hint-of-Fruit “Spa Water”

Fruit Flavored “Spa” Water

Here are some delicious tips from Melanie at The Yummy Life to help us become enthused about consuming less pop (with hardly noticing) by enjoying drinking this kind of water!

Please click the links provided to visit Melanie’s page for the complete article.

.

fruit flavored waterNaturally Flavored Water – Here’s an easy formula for making an endless variety of fruit and herb infused waters. Say goodbye to soda, juice, and bottled water! I’m keeping 2-3 flavors of this “spa water” in my fridge now, so I have a variety to motivate me to drink more water.

Regular old tap water, or at least a filtered version of it, is the way to go.  I do prefer the taste of it filtered through a Brita Water Filter Pitcher and we’ve been using one for years. But, I still don’t drink enough water. I honestly forget to drink fluids throughout the day. I know that it’s important for my health. I don’t dislike water, but I get bored with it. That was the motivation for starting to make flavored waters.

These aren’t sweet waters, so they’ll be disappointing if that’s what you’re expecting. This is water with subtle flavors infused into it. Water with a little something extra. This is about a touch of flavor (not an explosion of flavor) with little or no sweetness. You’ve probably had pitchers of ice water with lemon served at restaurants. This is the same idea, but with more variety. Many spas serve fancy waters like these, and it turns out that they couldn’t be simpler to make. And, they are oh-so-refreshing!

How to make Naturally Flavored Water:

strawberry lemonadeSUPPLIES NEEDED:

~Fruit ~ whatever kind you like (except no bananas); make sure it’s good and ripe for maximum sweetness and flavor.  I like to use all kinds of citrus and berries. I also found pineapple and watermelon to work well for flavoring water. If you don’t want to buy whole ones, many grocery stores sell small containers of pre-cut fruit. Frozen fruit also works well.

~Herbs ~ these are optional, but many herbs are a surprising complement to fruit flavors; almost any herb will work depending on your personal preference. Mint is an obvious choice, but use whatever you have on hand. It’s surprising how much they amp up the flavor!

~Ice and cold Water: I use filtered water, but tap water is fine if yours tastes good to you

~Jars, jugs, or pitchers: I use 2-quart mason jars, but any 2-quart pitcher will do.

~Wooden spoon or muddler for mashing fruit and herbs

QUANTITIES: The quantities in my flavored water recipes are all for 2 quart jars or pitchers. However, I ran out of the 2-quart jars and used a few 1-quart jars, halving the recipe ingredients. So, don’t be confused by the different jar sizes. It’s easy to make a full or half batch depending on your jar or pitcher size.

WASH FRUIT THOROUGHLY! The citrus and berries need to be really, really clean to keep contaminants and bacteria out of your flavored water. I strongly recommend organic fruit.

(Ok, Melanie said ‘recommend’. However I strongly recommend organic. And filtered water too)

POUR A GLASS. When there’s still ice left in the jar (my ice lasts up to 24 hours in the fridge), it will filter out the fruit/herb bits as you pour the water into a glass. After the ice melts, if you don’t want to drink fruit bits along with the water, use a small wire strainer to remove them as you pour the water into your drinking glass

SWEETEN IT UP, IF YOU MUST. If you have a sweet tooth and find these flavored waters undrinkable without some sweetener, go ahead and stir in some simple sugar syrup, honey, agave syrup, or whatever sweetener you prefer. 1 teaspoon of sugar only has 15 calories, so go ahead and add one to your glass. Given that a single can of soda or juice has the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of sugar, you are still way better off drinking slightly sweetened water. If you are hooked on sweet tasting drinks and want to reduce or eliminate sugar or artificial sweeteners, you may need to wean yourself gradually. Unsweetened beverages are an acquired taste. I prefer them now, but it took me awhile to get there.

GREAT FOR ENTERTAINING! Flavored waters are very popular now, as more people are avoiding soda and juice. Make a variety of flavored waters to offer at your next party. Look how gorgeous they are! Refreshing, healthy, inexpensive, and beautiful. Plus you can make and refrigerate them well in advance of the party.

..

Read more at ~ http://www.theyummylife.com/Flavored_Water

 

fresh raspberry waterEASY FRUIT and HERB FLAVORED WATER ~ By Monica Matheny ~ Makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients

Fruit ~ 2 cups berries, citrus, melons, pineapple… most fruits, except banana

(Amounts are listed in in the directions)

Herbs ~ a sprig of mint, basil, sage, rosemary, tarragon, thyme, or lavender

Ice and Water (tap or filtered)

Directions

FORMULA FOR WHATEVER FRUIT/HERB COMBO YOU DESIRE.

If using herbs, add a sprig of fresh herbs to jar/pitcher; press and twist with muddler or handle of wooden spoon to bruise leaves and release flavor; however only crush-don’t pulverize the herbs into bits.

Add approx. 2 cups of fruit to jar/pitcher; press and twist a bit with muddler or handle of wooden spoon, just enough to release some of the juices

Fill jar/pitcher with ice cubes.

Add cold water to top of jar/pitcher.

Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

.

SUGGESTED FLAVOR COMBINATIONS:

ALL CITRUS (no herbs) ~ Slice 1 orange, 1 lime, 1 lemon into rounds, then cut the rounds in half. Add to jar and proceed with muddling, add ice & water.

RASPBERRY LIME (no herbs)  ~ Quarter 2 limes; with your hands, squeeze the juice into the jar, then throw in the squeezed lime quarters. Add 2 cups raspberries. Muddle, add ice & water.

PINEAPPLE MINT ~ Add a sprig of mint to the jar (you can throw in the whole sprig; or, remove the leaves from the sprig, if you prefer to have the mint swimming around and distributing in the jar). Muddle the mint. Add 2 cups pineapple pieces, muddle, add ice & water.

BLACKBERRY SAGE ~ Add sage sprig to jar and muddle. Add 2 cups blackberries; muddle, add ice & water.

WATERMELON ROSEMARY ~  Add rosemary sprig to jar & muddle. Add 2 cups watermelon cubes; muddle, add ice and water.

.

This info is gratefully obtained from a brilliant author sharing her tips for getting off the pop and juices and starting to drink more water. Here’s my shout out of many thanks to Monica Matheny over at The Yummy Life. She admits to formerly being addicted to Dr. Pepper (I can relate) and has now made the very healthy choice to give that up. Please click this link to view her incredibly informative post about how we can enjoy delicious fruit-flavored waters, as well as homemade iced teas, with little effort and for a fraction of the calories, sugar and cost of the store-bought versions.