Create a Haven for Birds

Create a Haven for Birds

Sooner or later, we will have to recognise that the Earth has rights, too, to live without pollution. What mankind must know is that human beings cannot live without Mother Earth, but the planet can live without humans.  Evo Morales

Nature delights the soul.  One of my most memorable moments in gardening was watching 500 or more cedar waxwings landing in my yard to strip berries from my mountain ash tree.  Obviously, the tree couldn’t handle all 500; they took turns in groups of 50 or so landing on the tree, eating their share, then leaving for the next group.

The song of the robin in early spring, the cheery melody of the chickadee, or the rap-rap-rap of a piliated woodpecker is as entertaining as my favorite music.  Of course, the raucous cacophony of magpies reminds me of music I dislike.

One amazing wren set up housekeeping in one of our birdhouses.  It had a twig that was three times as long as the diameter of the hole into the birdhouse.  Three times it tried to put it indirectly, but the hole was too small.  Then it twisted its head and poked it in lengthwise.  Smart bird!

In our backyard, we have seen over 25 species of birds.  Some of the less common ones were Crossbills, Warblers, White-Crowned Sparrows, White Throat Sparrows, Orioles, and Swainson’s Thrush.

Unfortunately, with the continued use of herbicides and pesticides, especially Neonicotinoids, a broad-spectrum pesticide, there are far fewer insects available to feed insect-loving birds, especially songbirds (refer to Wikipedia re Neonicotinoids.)  I am sure many of you have noticed a dramatic decline in songbirds over the past 20 years.   We haven’t seen an oriole for over 30 years.

In the city, the probable cause is the desire for lush lawns that are weed-free.  The various companies that service your lawn use a variety of herbicides and pesticides to keep the lawn looking as perfect as a bride on her wedding day.  But they kill valuable food for the birds.

What can one person do?  Avoid chemicals on your lawn and other parts of your yard.  Plan your yard or balcony to attract birds.  No matter how small your space, you can add flowers, a birdbath, and small shrubs.

Provide food for the birds by planting trees and shrubs that provide berries and insects for the birds.  Shrubs such as cotoneaster, dogwood, blueberry, or saskatoon provide fresh fruit for Robins, Grosbeaks, Blue Jays, and Wrens.

Grow plants with seeds, such as aster, bachelor button, coneflower, marigold, petunia, phlox, salvia, sedum, sunflower, thyme, zinnia, black-eyed Susan, or cosmos, to attract seed-eating birds such as the Nuthatch, Finch, American Goldfinch, Chickadee, or Sparrow.

Don’t remove any plants with seeds in the fall; leave them and their seeds for the birds in the winter.

Bright flowers attract hummingbirds.

Put up one or more birdhouses.  Each species prefers a specific entrance hole size and height above the ground. For example, a wren likes a house with an entrance diameter of 1.25 inches, set about 6 feet above the ground.  Other birds have different preferences.  You can purchase washers with the desired hole diameter from a bird supply store.  For specific information go to suncatcherstudio.com for more detail.

And don’t forget the birdbath.  Water attracts birds to drink and bathe.  Remember to keep the water clean, changing it frequently.

And in the summer, don’t forget the hummingbird feeder.

In the winter, stock your bird feeder with their favorite food.  Like people, different birds prefer different food.  Sunflower seeds for Chickadees, Nuthatches, Crossbills, and Jays.  Peanuts for Chickadees, Jays, and Woodpeckers.   Suet for Nuthatches and Woodpeckers.  Birdseed for Sparrows and Finches.

With a little planning, you can help make your yard a haven for birds, providing many hours of pleasure watching nature’s beauties.


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