Watching the birds is a favorite pasttime of most, if not all gardeners. It is definitely one of my favorite things to do, especially in the winter when I can watch the birds from the warmth of my kitchen. This year's crop of birds have included more cardinals than I have seen in the past six years I have lived in Woodlawn. I don't know why but I like it and want to attract even more types of birds. (Maybe catch up with Skeeter's 50+ species down in Georgia)
Woodlawn is somewhat removed from the city area and we are blessed with a bunch of wildlife. But even in the city, you too can attract a wide variety of birds to your yard. The key is to ensure you have the four requirements birds need to make their home in your garden. The four requirements are: food, water, shelter, and a place to raise their young.
A garden with nothing but a wide expanse of nicely manicured lawn grass is easy to maintain and even looks good, but it doesn't do much in the way of attracting birds. Planting just a few shrubs like arborvitae, yews, junipers and barberries as shelter for the birds will go a long way toward making the birds feel welcomed in your garden.
Providing food for the birds means planting plants like: viburnums, crabapples, coneflowers, liatris, cranberries, gooseberries, strawberries, blueberries, sunflowers, serviceberries, dogwoods, and oak and nut trees to ensure a food source for all types of birds.
A favorite bird friendly tree I have planted in my garden is a beautiful crabapple tree. Mine really attracts the birds, especially mockingbirds, which I am particularly fond of watching. Off from Bevard Road near the Fort Campbell Boulevard Wal-Mart, there is THE most beautiful crabapple tree I have ever seen. Last winter it was literally covered with 1/2 red-maroon berries. I was in awe and need to make a trip over there to see if it looks the same this year. If it does, I will snap a picture and you all will understand why the birds love crabapples-I even like them and use crabapples in making jelly.
Providing a place for birds to raise their young is as simple as having a brush pile or some old fence posts or even old cars where birds can take up residence and feel safe enough to raise their families. One year we had a family of titmouses nest in Mr. Fix-it's old Impala, just under the front grille. It was thrilling as it was the first year we moved here and we really weren't used to a lot of birds in the area of our home.
Shelter is an area where birds can hide from predators and also vitally important, an area birds can roost overnight to stay warm. I find the arborvitaes serve this purpose in my garden. In the cold evening hours, dozens of birds like sparrows and finches, congregate in the branches of the arborvitaes. The evergreen leaves help keep in the bird's warmth. Spruces, cedars and junipers will provide the same benefit of shelter to the birds as well. When predators approach the birds can easily hide in the thick branches of these same trees. A lawn devoid of any shrubs and trees makes it difficult for birds to find shelter.
Finally, providing a water source while the weather is cold is vital to birds. My little bathtub pond froze almost solidly, but the one spot where the pump sprayed water remained unfrozen. There have been many birds tiptoeing on the ice to the water in order to take a drink. An alternative water source for the birds that I have found works quite nicely, is a heated dog water bowl. These bowls generally cost less than $20 and can be plugged in to an outside outlet in order to keep the water from freezing. I place a rock in mine for the birds to perch. You can also purchase birdbath heaters but the one I use does not reliably keep the birdbath from freezing.
Now, take a look at some birds I watch from my window and if you too have a window with a bird feeder and water source-then great! If not, install a birdfeeder and begin watching your own wide variety of birds!
The bird you hear chirping in the background is not an outside bird, he is my very own little parakeet, Pippy. While watching the video, if you look closely to the right of the bird feeder you will notice a few black cows running up the hill in the background. Something must've spooked them and they were a pleasant surprise while I was recording. I thought it was funny how the female cardinal calmly sat on the bird feeder eating while the bird feeder rotated around and around. This bird feeder has been a great bird feeder other than being made out of plastic. It could not stand up against the squirrels who made quick work of the lid. I moved the bird feeder closer to the house so I could hopefully scare the squirrels away, but have not been too successful. A hungry squirrel is a very determined squirrel-except of course when the bird dogs see it and get the opportunity to chase it!
in the garden....
P.S. If the video does not show properly on your computer, please let me know by either posting a comment or emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks.