Guest this week on The Gardener, Sherrie Versluis, the bird lady of Winnipeg and owner of the Preferred Perch, talks about all the bird varieties we are seeing this spring and tells why they seem to be so prominent. One of the highlights we have encountered is an indigo bunting, a dark blue bird that is not often seen here. Another is a scarlet tanager that visited Sherrie’s bird lover’s paradise. She had a catbird for the fist time in a long time. One of the sounds they make is like a cat meowing. There have been purple finches and lovely little Gros beaks, not to mention woodpeckers.

If you find woodpeckers drumming away at your tree, she says, the tree is already in serious trouble and contains insects, which is what the woodpecker is after. Woodpeckers do not attack healthy trees because there is nothing in it for them.

We touch on the weird merganser duck with its long, ungainly beak. The pelican is a welcome sight in Manitoba and the pouch in its beak can hold a huge amount of food – no babies, though!

She explains why it is so important to choose the right bird food for you feeders. The stuff in pretty packages is the most suspect. She herself buys from a multitude of local suppliers where she can be sure there is no mould or contaminants.

Sherri also warns against buying so called “squirrel-proof” seed, some of which contains pepper that can cause serious problems for birds, especially in winter as it overheats their system and can cause them to freeze.

We discuss why people are seeing so many birds. The main reason is that with the isolation COVID has forced upon us, we are looking harder and more closely and seeing some amazing things for the first time.