Jerry Davis: Your old leftovers would provide feast for birds
Instead of tossing leftover food in a garbage can or garbage disposal, consider saving some items that are fit for birds and other wildlife to consume.
While evergreen trees cannot be eaten, they do make good bird perches and shelters. It’s best to stand them upright, the way they grew, or several can be mounded or leaned together. If the branches are really tight, trim a few to make it easier for the birds to get between the boughs.
Brush piles from deciduous trees and shrubs are fine, too. These perches are best placed within a few yards of a feeder, in a sunny spot, and out of direct wind.
Vegetable seeds, squash cleanings, and leftover cooked squash are often eaten.
Dishes with fruit pieces including cranberries and raisins, nuts and other seeds, and oily substances will be consumed by woodpeckers, nuthatches and titmice.
Bread — dried is best — and bones with scraps of meat or fat attract the same birds as those coming to suet cakes.
Some leafy vegetables may be consumed, too, but usually they freeze before they are completely eaten.
Stale popcorn is readily taken by numerous birds.
Old peanut butter and similar substances can be spread on tree bark or on weathered boards for woodpeckers and many more species.
Regardless of the food product, make sure strings and wires are removed so the birds don’t tangle their feet and feathers.
Winter water is sometimes scarce. When filling a feeder, place a container of warm water nearby for a few minutes, and bring it in when it begins to freeze over.
None of these materials require any sophisticated display apparatuses; for ground-feeding birds, nothing is required other than shoveling down to bare soil or grass.