I first tried using bird seed on slippery ice last winter, and immediately gained favor with a squirrel.
There’s not much happening in my home kitchen garden. Thankfully, it’s covered with snow. There’s not a lot of snow, but even a little is helpful because it provides insulation that promotes decay in the six-inch layer of leaves underneath.
The snow came with biting cold, but sunny days have caused melting and refreezing… and for some reason that happened on our front walkway. In other words: there’s ice on the pavement where people are supposed to walk.
It’s tempting to toss hands full of rock salt on the icy walkway, but there’s a planting bed on one side and lawn on the other. It’d be fine with me to lose the lawn, but I still want to be able to grow plants there in place of the grass. So… I’d rather not use rock salt on the ice.
The front walk was icy yesterday, so I sprinkled it with bird seed. After the ice melted today, a cardinal and several junkos came to clean things up.
Last season, I came up with an environmentally-friendly alternative: bird seed. No, bird seed doesn’t chemically alter ice so that it melts at lower temperatures, but it still remediates icy walkways. Here’s how:
An even sprinkling of bird seed over ice provides instant traction. Your shoes push the hard grains into the ice and many stick, preventing your shoes from sliding. When there’s even a little sunshine, seeds absorb heat and ice beneath them melts faster than surrounding ice. A few hours of sunshine can riddle seed-covered ice with holes and make it easy to break up with a shovel.
When I first tried bird seed as an ice countermeasure, I discovered a fun benefit I should have anticipated: the seed attracts birds and other animals. If you maintain bird feeders anyway, tossing a little seed on an icy walkway isn’t going to change you lifestyle a whole lot. If you don’t already feed birds, you might get a kick out of the wildlife you attract when you treat your icy walkways with bird seed.