Create your own bird sanctuary
How can you make your garden feel like home from a feathered viewpoint? Cynthia Newby shares her pointers:
Go native. Native plantings attract insects that frequent your region. And birds will be waiting with beaks poised to snatch them up for dinner.
Plant berries. Beyond summer-bearing berries (such as blueberries and vibumums), plant berries that need repeated frosts to become edible, such as winterberries. They’re dazzling in autumn, and they provide food for birds that stay put and brave winter weather. Go for roses with good hips.
Give them shelter. Not only do birds need trees and shrubs for nesting purposes, they also like to flit back to safety when using the bird feeder and birdbath. Pyracantha works great for hummingbirds; dwarf conifers are ideal for larger birds.
Don’t clean up after Mother Nature. Rather than tidying woodlands, leave fallen trees for nesting. Pruning shrubs? Dump clipped brush into wooded areas on your property to serve as snags where birds can hide from predators.
Mulch. Birds love to scratch for insects in leaves. If you let them do their job, your garden can be both pest-free and weedless.
Let it go to seed. Rather than cutting back plants after blooming, let seedheads form. Some birds feather their nests with downy seeds; others forage seeds for snacks.
Go organic. You don’t want to poison your friends. Use corn gluten to fight lawn weeds and organic methods of insect control that don’t harm birds. Fertilize with compost.
Offer them a drink. Birds love flowing water. If you’ve got a moist spot, dig out a little stream. Better still, give birds a fountain or waterfall to bathe and play in.
Plant a watchtower. While birds are dining, sentinel birds in tall nearby trees watch for danger. Plant fast-growing trees to serve as perches for feathered guards.