Photo image by gareth1953 via Flickr Creative Commons
Bring your backyard to life
As I write, I am listening to the clear, fluted sound of a couple of Black-Capped Chickadees coupled with the metallic chirp of a Northern Cardinal. It’s relaxing, entertaining and satisfying to the nature-lover in me to devote the backyard to the birds. Habitat restoration is vital for wild birds and other wildlife due to commerical and residential infringement on natural areas. Your backyard (or if space is limited – your balcony!) is one place where you can easily make a difference. All you need to do is provide 4 basic elements:
You can help secure a food supply for birds by planting shrubs and trees that produce seeds, fruits, nuts and nectar. This is a sure fire way to make your yard attractive to birds for years to come. Here’s a list to give you planting ideas. Bird feeders (seed, nectar, suet) make it super easy to provide a helping hand to the birds throughout the year. Plus, you can position a feeder in a prime spot for bird watching. Just be sure to place it near a tree or shrub – birds like cover from predators while feeding and a place to perch while waiting for a turn at the feeder.
Water is an important part of your backyard habitat. A pedestal bird bath or shallow water dish placed at ground level will provide the necessary water for drinking and bathing. Replace the water every few days to keep it fresh and clean. Although this is a bit of extra work, it is well worth it. A water source can dramatically increase the number and type of wild birds that visit your yard. Plus it is totally entertaining to watch birds splash around in the water. Be sure to place the bird bath where you can view it from indoors. For more tips on supplying water, click here.
Shelter will turn your yard from a place where birds visit to a place where birds live. Birds need places to hide from predators and the weather. Plant evergreen trees and shrubs that provide year round cover. Large rocks, stumps, ground cover and brush piles offer a welcome haven for ground feeding birds.
PLACE TO RAISE THEIR YOUNG
With more and more destruction of natural habitats, birds are having trouble finding nesting and roosting sites. Bluebirds, purple martins and woodpeckers are struggling to find places to raise their young. Go here to find specifications for birdhouses that will suit the birds you wish to attract. You can put birdhouses up any time of the year; when not in use for nesting, many birds will use them for a place to sleep in cold weather.
Now that you’re a bird nerd…
Once you have your backyard habitat established, treat yourself to a field guide or mobile app (I use iBird) to help you learn about and identify your new feathered friends. You can also participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count to help scientists create a real-time snapshot of where birds are across the continent. On Twitter? Search #birdnerd to see what other bird watchers are tweeting.
Special thanks to my friend, Stephanie, a fellow bird nerd, for the post idea.
Which birds frequent YOUR backyard? Let’s compare birding notes (include your State in the comment to make it more interesting)!