The HubPages Birdwatcher's Club: Landscaping For the Birds
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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?