Landscaping For Birds


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Congratulations! By deciding to enhance your property for wildlife, you are on the way to providing beauty for your home, creating excitement for your family, and affecting the future survival of wildlife in your area. No matter what the size of your property or budget, you CAN make a difference.

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Landscaping For Birds

  1. 1. Congratulations! By deciding to enhance your property for wildlife, you are on the way to providing beauty for your home, creating excitement for your family, and affecting the future survival of wildlife in your area. No matter what the size of your property or budget, you CAN make a difference. For more nature habitat information Visit these helpful websites: A Plants Home A Birds Home A Homesteaders Home Landscaping For Birds Few people wouldindeny that there is pleasure having At the same time, we can each play a part in recreating birds in the garden. Their desirable habitat for birds, and activity interests us, their they will reward us by visiting colors enchant us, and their our yards in greater variety and songs brighten the day. Add the numbers. fact that they eat lots and lots of insects, and in some cases Plants pollinate our flowers. It’s no The tendency today when wonder that feeding and building houses is to clear-cut watching birds is a major the lot, construct the house, national pastime. add a few small foundation plantings, and then surround it More and more, however, you with a vast expanse of green hear people sadly saying that lawn. Grass has its place but, “there just aren’t as many birds with the exception of robins, as there used to be." In some flickers, and starlings, it is of no ways this is true: development, benefit to birds, nor to most pesticides, indiscriminate other wildlife for that matter. cutting of forests, unchecked predators, disruption of Flower gardens are lovely and migration paths – all of these add back some food and cover, have cut down considerably on but not nearly enough to the numbers of some bird sustain large populations of species. birds. With greater awareness and When landscaping for birds, environmental protection, some you need to think about the are making a comeback, and for four essential needs of wildlife: this we can be grateful. food, water, shelter, and space.© WindStar Wildlife Institute Page 1 A Plants Home
  2. 2. By carefully choosing a variety an out-of-the-way corner, many that you want to attract is of trees, shrubs, and other bird species will appreciate a the best way to increase their plants, then adding additional thicket of blackberries, population in your yard. food and water as needed, you raspberries, honeysuckle can create a habitat that will bushes, or native roses. Water bring you endless enjoyment All wildlife needs water, and through every season. Keep in mind that these birds are no exception. Birds plants, while offering both food both drink water and bathe in it. Birds come in a wide variety, and excellent nesting sites, can so it is only natural that they become invasive, so only include While they seem to get great have a large range of them if you can keep them enjoyment from bathing, it is preferences as far as food, under control with mowing. also necessary for their nesting sites, and shelter. survival. Their wings get bent If you have a dead tree trunk and out of position during If all species enjoyed the same that is not endangering any normal activities, so grooming plants, there would be structure, keep it in place and while bathing keeps them ready overcrowding and too great a add ivy or other vines to for flight. As the feathers slide drain on limited resources. disguise it and offer protection through their beaks, they are Therefore, when you are to birds. Many species use also spreading oils that keep choosing plants, strive for snags even without any green them waterproof and maintain diversity to ensure the greatest covering, both for food and nest their insulating properties. assortment of species in your holes. Some birds that don’t come to yard. seed feeders, such as robins, If most of the trees on your will still entertain you by coming You will want to consider property are deciduous, losing to bathe. trees, shrubs, grasses, flowers, their leaves in winter, you might vines, brambles, and even dead consider collecting discarded The easiest way to provide trees, known as “snags." Those Christmas trees and tie them water for birds is with a simple birds that don’t migrate will to posts to create a windbreak birdbath. It should be located need seeds and berries to carry and shelter during the winter about 15" from shrubbery but, them through the winter, as well months. since a wet bird cannot fly as as pines or other non-deciduous easily, there should be clear trees and shrubs to offer They will remain green until space around it so that protection from snow and cold warmer weather, at which time predators are easily spotted. temperatures. they can be discarded, perhaps by forming a brush pile that will If there are cats in the area, It is best if you can plant in provide year-round shelter for a put the bath on a pedestal levels, extending from taller variety of wildlife. about 40" off the ground. The trees at the top, down through placement should not be shrubs to flowers and ground By studying plant anywhere that chemicals can covers, since different birds live descriptions before buying, you drift into the water and, while and feed at different heights. can plan a habitat that there are many creative These should be grouped, rather includes food sources materials that can be made than planted as individual throughout the year. Many birds into birdbaths, it should not be specimens, and can be placed nest when natural food sources lead-lined. along the border of your are at their peak, giving them property or as “islands" in your easy access and allowing more A birdbath can be any size, yard. time to tend their young. but 24"-36" in diameter seems to be the most popular for a Hedges are also very enticing Since many birds return to wide variety of birds. It to birds, especially if you have nest in the same area year shouldn’t be slippery and, since the space to make them at after year, providing the birds have a natural fear of least eight feet wide. If you have favorite foods of the species deep water, should gradually© WindStar Wildlife Institute Page 2 A Plants Home
  3. 3. slope down to no deeper than 3". A rock in the middle, or an RECOMMENDED PLANTS upside-down flowerpot with a branch stuck in it, makes an The following plants are popular with a variety of birds. enticing perch. Clean the bath This is a very small sampling of possibilities. For often and add fresh water. additional suggestions, consult guidebooks, a nature center or extension service, local nurseries, or the Birds are especially attracted to moving water, so you might Internet. want to consider incorporating a drip or spray into your LARGE TREES: VINES: birdbath. Birch Honeysuckle Crab Apple Fiveleaf Akebia This can be accomplished Hawthorn Virginia Creeper simply, by suspending a bucket Hemlock English Ivy with a small hole above the bath Pine Bittersweet and letting water drip out, or Spruce Grape more elaborately with a series of Dogwood Trumpet Vine containers creating a waterfall Hackberry effect. There are many kits on Mountain Ash the market, or you can buy a Oak ANNUAL FLOWERS: recirculating pump and create Tupelo Cosmos your own design. Mulberry Zinnia Sunflower Although birds can get Cleome moisture from snow, having free- SMALL TREES AND SHRUBS: Gloriosa Daisy flowing water available in the Buckthorn Ageratum winter is a big benefit and allows Holly Fuschia them to bathe as needed. There Serviceberry Dianthus are relatively inexpensive outdoor Sumac Sea Lavender heaters especially made for Barberry Marigold birdbath use, and you will find it Bayberry California Poppy delightful to watch birds enjoy Elderberry Lantana the water during the colder Blackberry months. Rose Viburnum GRASSES: If you choose not to maintain Blueberry Little Blue Stem your birdbath during the winter, Pyracantha Tufted Hair Grass turn it upside down so that Bulbous Oat Grass water won’t freeze in it and Miscanthus cause cracking. PERENNIAL FLOWERS: Pampas Grass Purple Coneflower Food Aster Many times, when we think of Coreopsis SEEDS: food in connection with birds, we Goldenrod Black Oil Sunflower picture only mixed birdseed. While Globe Thistle Black-Striped Sunflower seed has its place, there are Butterfly Flower White Proso Millet many kinds of preferred food, Rudbeckia Grey-Striped Sunflower just as there are many species Statice Niger (thistle) of birds. Columbine Hulled Sunflower Scabiosa Breeding season for many Chrysanthemum birds coincides with the© WindStar Wildlife Institute Page 3 A Plants Home
  4. 4. availability of their favorite more obvious it will become Commercial mixes are available, natural food. While that it requires variety to keep or you can combine one part supplementing with various them all satisfied. sugar to four parts boiled kinds of birdseed is good, birds water. Never use honey, as this have existed for at least 140 No one garden will be can cause illness, and clean the million years and have evolved sufficient for all the birds, but feeder often to prevent bacteria along with the native plants by choosing your plants with growth. Bread, table scraps, that supply most of their care, you can develop a yard and salted foods are not nourishment. that will attract many recommended. different species. There are about 8,650 In the winter, when birds need species of birds in the world, Buying birdseed is still going a diet higher in fat to maintain 796 of them in North America, to remain a popular pastime, sufficient body temperature, and some have very specialized and there are a number of suet can be offered. In the eating habits. Those that rely styles of feeders on the warmer months, peanut butter largely on insects appreciate a market, as well as a variety of mixed with cornmeal is a good garden free of pesticides and seeds chosen to appeal to substitute since it won’t spoil will devour many pests for you different birds. so easily in the heat. It can be safely and at no cost. spread right on the bark of a Seed preferences have been tree to attract woodpeckers. If you study the birds, you studied at length, and the will see that the shape of the most appealing overall seed is As with birdbaths, feeders bill is one clue to what kind of black oil sunflower. Two other need to be in easy flight reach food they prefer. The bills of popular seeds are niger of shrubs, but have open areas seed-eating birds, such as (commonly called thistle) and around them for visibility. cardinals, finches, and white proso millet. sparrows are strong, cone- They should be cleaned shaped, and often have some Buying specific seeds may regularly, and seed hulls should kind of cutting edge to help seem to cost more, but there is be removed periodically from them get into the inside a lot more waste with “all- beneath them to avoid the kernel. purpose" seed mixes which formation of mold. The seed in include unpopular seeds and the feeders should be protected Contrast that with the fillers. from moisture. Some bird hummingbird, with his long species need grit in their diet to tube for reaching deep into When eating seeds, different digest their food and would flowers, or the woodpecker birds prefer different types of appreciate some sand nearby. whose bill is hard enough to presentation. Some like to eat chisel into wood, yet sensitive up high, from feeders that Nesting enough to feel the vibrations swing freely, while others want A sure sign that you are of insects behind the bark. a flat, stable platform at a meeting the needs of birds is lower level. Still others prefer their willingness to nest in your Robins don’t have such to eat right off the ground. yard. Mated pairs work very efficient bills, but their hard to choose the right site, eyesight allows them to see As with your plantings, offer and must consider many earthworms moving just a variety of feeders at factors including shelter, beneath the soil, while different levels to attract the safety, access to food and swallows have strong wings largest number of birds. water, and appropriate and wide bills to catch insects conditions for fledging the right out of the air. To further In addition to birdseed, you young. There must also be complicate things, baby birds might want to offer other adequate materials available often require a different diet types of food, such as fruit – for actually building the nest. from their parents! including oranges, apples, grapes, and fruit cocktails – This is often a problem today The more you learn about and nectar, most often offered because in addition to cutting the birds in your area, the in hummingbird feeders. down dead trees which would© WindStar Wildlife Institute Page 4 A Plants Home
  5. 5. have made suitable nesting months, and to allow it to sites and over-pruning shrubs, weather a bit before occupancy. we tend to keep our yards so well-groomed that there is little Predator guards are available, left in the way of twigs, long and there should be a shrub or grasses, and other popular tree 5-15 away. Food sources nesting supplies. nearby reduce the searching for parents, leaving them more time To compensate, early in the to tend their babies. It may spring offer such things as take several seasons for birds twigs, bits of string (no longer to find and use your houses, but than 8"), strips of cloth, hair, be patient. fur, and soft stuffing. Keeping these items in piles rather than Although birds often claim a randomly scattered means less territory and will not let others effort for the parents once they of the same species nest there, start to build. it is not unusual to have 10 different nesting boxes per acre Those species that use mud used by different kinds of birds. to construct nests will appreciate a trash can lid sunk Although some are tolerant of a bit in the ground and filled human interest, it is safest not with clay soil that is kept wet. to look in on the eggs or babies and risk frightening the parents To replace the dead tree into abandoning the nest. cavities, bird nesting boxes are the usual choice. There are many On page 3 you will find a list of styles to choose from, often plants that are popular with a with very specific opening sizes variety of bird species. This is a to suit particular species. The small sampling of possibilities. house should have no moving For additional suggestions, parts or outside perches that consult nature guides, can ease the way for predators, neighbors, a local nature center although cleats on the inside or extension service, local below the opening are helpful for nurseries, or the Internet. fledging the young when the time comes to leave the nest. This article was written by Except for aluminum homes Maryland Master Wildlife Habitat Naturalist Cathy Gilleland. For more for purple martins, bird nesting information or for the name of a boxes should not be made of Master Wildlife Habitat Naturalist metal, which gets hot, nor of in your area, please contact: plastic which allows moisture to build up. WindStar Wildlife Institute Wood is generally preferred, E-mail: and it should have holes for ventilation and drainage, and a hinged top, front, or side for easy cleaning at the end of the WindStar Wildlife Institute is a season. It is a good idea to put national, non-profit, conservation a new box up in the late summer organization whose mission is to or early fall, so that you can be help individuals and families sure that it will indeed be establish or improve the wildlife shaded during the summer habitat on their properties.© WindStar Wildlife Institute Page 5 A Plants Home