Bird is the Word!
Add Beauty to Your Backyard by Attracting Birds to Visit
By Leah Lancione
Birds add beauty and excitement to an outdoor landscape with their distinctive chirps and songs and colorful feathers. During the late winter and early spring these small creatures need help from you when food is scarce. By taking a few simple steps you can increase the chances of having an array of migrating birds visiting your feeders! Marylanders can often see cardinals and robins all year-round while white-throated sparrows, which only spend their winters along the East Coast of the U.S., may stop here during their migration. Of course, the Baltimore Oriole is the state bird, but more than 400 different species of birds can be found in Maryland. Go to www.msa.md.gov/msa/mdmanual/01glance/html/birds.html
One source for advice is about.com which advises you to get feeders ready early for migrating or transient birds. Since some birds begin their migratory journey in February it’s not too early to get your yard primed as a welcoming environment with food, water and shelter. It doesn’t matter what size of yard you have to start preparing it for bird visits.
Even if there’s snow on the ground or the air still has the bite of winter, it’s important to stock birdfeeders with different kinds of birdseed to nourish a range of birds, whether they are seasonal or permanent residents. Check www.backyardnature.net/birdmgrt.htm for more information.
Make sure you have mix of birdseed, including sunflower seeds, millet, cracked corn seed or a commercial birdseed, that will appeal to the different birds that appear in your yard this time of year. Suet, peanuts and black oil sunflower seeds are also a good idea for keeping the winter birds frequenting your feeders. Birdseed can be purchased at virtually any outdoor, hardware/home improvement, pet, or nursery store as well as retailers like Wal-Mart, Target and K-mart.
Though the temperatures may reach freezing on some late winter or early spring nights, it’s a good idea to keep and replenish the water in your birdbaths to attract birds. Some dedicated bird watchers even pay a little extra for a heated bird bath or one that keeps the water moving to keep it from freezing. If you don’t want to buy a birdbath, place a bowl of water in a protected spot on the patio or in a corner of the yard. It should do the trick.
Adding a few bird houses or boxes to your patio area or fence will certainly appeal to birds that have been traveling a long distance. Some birds will look for and take residence in already blooming trees or shrubs, but you can’t go wrong with adding shelter of your own to make their nesting easier.
HardyGardening.com discusses ways to garden to attract birds, and it says “natural, native vegetation” is the best option for feeding birds. The site lists the natural vegetation that can be planted to produce nuts, seeds, fruit or nectar that will draw particular birds. For example, certain perennials produce seeds that are enticing to hungry birds. So if you have a favorite bird you want to invite into “your neck of the woods” check out the website.
Another tip is to keep from doing your yardwork or at least limit your activity in the early morning or evening when the birds do most of their flitting about. And a truly dedicated bird lover will consider leaving tree and shrub clippings, leaves and other useful nesting materials in the yard for their feathered friends to use. Birds will return the favor by helping rid the yard of unwanted pests, according to the 2011 Almanac for Farmers and City Folk. This publication insists that having birds flourishing in an outdoor landscape is a natural way to cut down on unwanted pests in a garden. The Almanac also offers creative ways to feed birds while also decorating the patio. One such idea is a birdseed wreath that can be hung on a fence, tree branch, deck railing, or patio door. It’s attractive and useful.
Once you have some new birds roaming about, consult www.whatbird.com to learn their characteristic sounds. Before you know it you’ll know who’s visiting by hearing them before you see them in your bird-watching paradise.