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The HubPages Birdwatcher's Club: Landscaping For the Birds

Updated on November 23, 2012
Stumps make good hiding places for birds
Stumps make good hiding places for birds | Source

Landscaping?

Beside food and water, the next important item is to landscape for the birds that you want to attract. While you manage your backyard habitat, you’ll attract a greater variety of avian friends, than by simply feeding them. Not only that, you will have a gorgeous landscape to show off, too.

Since I have never settled on anything “traditional,” perhaps that is why I have had so many birds in my life. A pretty green lawn that is fertilized does little to attract birds, and can and will kill them with the chemical element added to eradicate dandelions and other weeds. They can also be destroyed organically, but to be honest, I would much rather look at birds than a barren lawn. If one is not careful, those conventional chemicals will kill flowers and poison the groundwater.

Lots of good places are for cover here
Lots of good places are for cover here | Source

An open lawn is also missing the cover of shrubs, vines, and trees to make the birds feel safe, which is also found in their natural habitats. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t need a jungle to attract birds, nor do you need to spend a lot of money.

Can you see me now?
Can you see me now? | Source

Evergreens

Evergreen trees and shrubs are very important, especially for shelter from the heat of the summer sun and the cold of the winter. Owls like conifers, especially pine and spruce trees. Purple finches will nest in ornamentals. If you have or can plant several types of evergreens, this will help with layering.

Notice the height differences
Notice the height differences | Source

Layering

Not all birds want to nest or feed at the same elevations. If you have trees, plants, and shrubs at assorted heights, your effects will be maximized. If you are able to have large and isolated trees, you can plant shade tolerant plants and shrubs in this vicinity.

See the firewood by the tree?
See the firewood by the tree? | Source

Brushpiles

This will draw a great deal of birds. If your feeders are out in the open, they won’t be visited much. Add a pile of brush (or your old evergreen after Christmas), and watch the bird population soar. You can start your pile with a few logs or rocks, then mound branches with the boughs facing down. Then put some smaller branches on the top and perhaps some grass clippings from the lawn.

Plants

Use native trees and plants that bear seeds, fruit, or nuts. You can get many of these young native trees from the side of the roadway in the country, but seek permission first, before you dig them up. Maybe you’re lucky enough to have some on your own property that you can relocate.

Habitat Edges

Where meadows and woodlands meet, or where hedges and flowers converge is where the most birds will be found. You can even make your own meadow by planting wildflowers, and letting the grass grow up.

Natural Perches
Natural Perches | Source

Wild Food Sources

Incorporate dead branches, leaf litter, a compost pile, stumps, etc. This will provide more food for the birds, nesting habitat, and places to perch. Fruit eaters will like apples, oranges, blueberries, crabapples, pears, and any other fruit that falls off trees. Your nut eaters will also appreciate the same.

Places to Look for Suggestions

The US Dept. of Agriculture, Co-operative Extension Services, or Fish and Game Divisions are all willing to lend a land in your quest. You can find them locally in the white pages of your phone book, or on the internet. Also contact your area horticulturists or garden centers, and they will tell you what kinds of plants, flowers, and shrubs will attract wild birds. Some towns and cities even have plant swap meets where you can trade some of your extras for those that you don’t have. If you have some time on your hands, you might even want to organize a church swap for plants and flowers. The sky is the limit!

Two different kinds of bees, honey and bumble
Two different kinds of bees, honey and bumble | Source
Brown Thrasher, exuberantly bathing
Brown Thrasher, exuberantly bathing | Source

For these photos, I used a Nikon D70S, courtesy of my friend, Jeannie, who has so much faith in my photographic abilities. How many friends would loan a camera out like this?

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    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, Letitia! The brushpile does wonders.

    • LetitiaFT profile image

      LetitiaFT 5 years ago from Paris via California

      Really interesting. The brushpile was a big surprise. Voted up and awesome.

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, CC. As long as you have trees ad shrubs for your hummers, they will likely be all right. They also like red and orange tubular shaped flowers. If you can entice a crow, jay or a raven, they will take care of the cats.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Once again, fabulous pictures and great tips, too! I love this! I wish I could have a bird feeder. But, I'm afraid my cats will stalk the birds. So, instead, I have a hummingbird feeder and plant lots of bird-friendly flowers and plants, but ones that the birds can easily see around them so they can make a quick escape. This is awesome and well-done!

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Deborah, I saw a pileated in ME, but I was without a good camera at the time. I saw a pileated here in OK a couple of months ago, but when he landed, it got a bad picture. It will happen sooner or later. No, I haven't seen the Rodale book, but if I can get it, I will certainly take a gander at it.

    • DeborahNeyens profile image

      Deborah Neyens 5 years ago from Iowa

      This is a great hub. Have you seen the Rodale book, "Attracting Birds to Your Backyard"? Also a good resource. I do whatever I can to attract the birds, and love it when a new type of bird shows up. Still waiting for the elusive pileated woodpecker!

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Good work, grandmapearl! Sounds like your yard will be rockin' before long. You'll have so many birds.

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Mhatter, many of the birds like to play in the flowers, so it makes sense to have them.

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, geoff! Glad that you are reaping the benefits of birds.

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Any time, xstatic!

    • grandmapearl profile image

      Connie Smith 5 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

      I use all of these suggestions to help bring in as many birds as possible. And I love the idea of layering for different birds to eat and nest. Next spring I intend to plant more shrubs that will eventually bear fruit and provide lots of perches and nesting opportunities, as well as different food sources.

      I am in the process of building a brush pile right now. In fact, I am taking pictures as I go so that I can write an article about it.

      There is so much great information here for anyone wishing to entice more birds to their backyards. Great job as always. Loved the picture of the brown thrasher in the bird bath. He seemed to be having a marvelous time! Voted Up and Shared.

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Just stopped by to say Hi. Great article, the small birds in my backyard seem to like playing in the cosmos.

    • geoffclarke profile image

      geoffclarke 5 years ago from Canada

      Another informative article and I couldn't agree more. I have been gradually converting my boring lawn into a bird-friendly habitat with small trees, shrubs and wildflowers. It definitely attracts more birds and butterflies as well. Thanks for sharing, as always.

    • xstatic profile image

      Jim Higgins 5 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

      Thanks for sharing this great information!

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, Johan! I have a great yard to be able to visit as often as I like.

    • Johan Smulders profile image

      Johan Smulders 5 years ago from East London, South Africa

      Great article,wish I had more space. Keep it up!