This month marks the 3rd year anniversary my wife and I moved into our new house. As many know, the whole house buying experience can be very exciting one minute, and stressful the next. The hardest part for us (besides coming up with the $) was finding something that we both liked. I wanted a nice house like my wife, but I also wanted a large lot with it - a place I could enjoy gardening and creating habitats for birds and other wildlife.
Providing natural habitat for wildlife, especially birds, has always been important to me no matter where I’ve lived, and our new place offered many new challenges. The lot was once open farmland with few trees and no shrubs or evergreens. It doesn’t sound like an ideal place for birds, but I saw lots of potential and it provided a clean slate to work with.
Planting a diversity of plants and trees, paying special attention to native species, was my first step. Creating diversity in the landscape provides cover, nesting sites, and food for birds. For instance, thick compact shrubs like evergreens make great nesting sites for birds like chipping sparrows.
Keep in mind that birds nest from ground to treetop. Creating brush piles and un-mowed areas in the landscape not only provide cover for ground feeding birds, it also provides areas for ground nesting birds like the Killdeer.
Always take advantage of what you have. Living in open rural land is not a bad thing, especially when there’s a lake nearby. It’s the perfect ingredients for swallows like Purple martins…
and tree swallows…
Open landscape is also the preferred habitat of bluebirds. Providing nest boxes for cavity nesting birds is an easy way to attract certain species to your backyard. Just remember to be a good landlord and protect those houses with predator guards.
Even your own house can be made “bird friendly”. Hanging flower pots make good nesting spots for birds like wrens and house finches. There may not be much left of the plant afterwards but it’s worth the experience. Here’s a house finch nest on our front porch in a hanging flower pot.
…and don’t forget the hummingbirds. Their fun to watch and can be drawn in close by setting up a nectar feeder.
Thanks for taking this brief tour with me around my yard. There's always more to do but I'm pleased with my progress so far. Now, go out and take a quick survey of your yard and see what things you can do to make a better habitat for the birds.
All photos were taken by me in my yard; however, my Wingscapes BirdCam provided a little help on some of the photos.