• Bird Academy
      Bird Academy
      What birds and other wildlife have you noticed since you started naturescaping? What do you think attracted them to your outdoor space? Share your thoughts in the discussion below.
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    • Marjorie
      Participant
      Chirps: 31
      I have made many notes and sketeches during this course of how to enhance my gardens to turn them into nature scape.  I completed the course over a few weeks so I have only been able to make a few small changes so far.   I  plan to refer back to the notes and purchase the native plants on my list when possible.   For now I am enjoying seeing butterflies on my milkweed and hummingbirds at my feeders.   I want to add cardinal flowers next year. I had a finch feeder close to my house and when I moved it away from the house  (as suggested in the course) I am pleased to see multiple finches stopping by on a regular basis. I thought perhaps I no longer had finches but I guess they just did not like being so close to the house. That one small change has made a huge difference in my bird count.  My husband set out some bird boxes a few years ago in the yard and in a meadow behind our house (actually our neighbor’s meadow but the boxes are attached to trees and fence posts that divide our properties). The boxes have been a success and we have had bluebirds as well as sparrows (which kind of want to take over) and swallows.  I plan to plant more native plants near the ones in our own yard.  It is fun to watch the parents chose a box, build the nest and feed the babies and then what a joy to see them fledge.  Although they do not nest in them, the robins like to sit on the boxes and  plunge down to  grab a worm. They must have good eye sight. I started a brush pile and hope to see more insects and then additional birds looking for bugs.   I have really enjoyed all the tips and resources this course has offered. It is a work in progress but progress is being made and that is  what matters. Here is a butterfly on my milkweed and some bluebirds checking out our boxes.butterflyBB1BB2
    • Debbie
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      I have never had this many birds in my yard before. I counted 21 species last week in a 30 minute observation.  I think letting the grass grow long in the 1/2 acre field behind my house is a big contributor to the increase in bird species visiting the feeders. In addition, we have planted 15 trees over the last 5 years including oaks, maples, river birch, sycamore, poplars, and redbuds.  The birds have dropped cedar seeds and we have 7 cedars that we didn't have to buy or plant.  I've put water on the deck in various pans and the birds are drawn to that as well.  I have some native flowers growing that are self seeding and expanding as well and over winter the birds are drawn to them as well.
    • Luis Lauro
      Participant
      Chirps: 21
      Clay-colored Thrush (Turdus grayi) 07 Clay-colored Thrush (Turdus grayi) 08 ebird_clcrob_world_life_list-04june2024   Using Merlin Bird ID. Clay-colored Thrush (Turdus grayi).
    • Luis Lauro
      Participant
      Chirps: 21
      Clay-colored Thrush (Turdus grayi) 04 Clay-colored Thrush (Turdus grayi) 05 Clay-colored Thrush (Turdus grayi) 06   Using Merlin Bird ID. Clay-colored Thrush (Turdus grayi).
    • Luis Lauro
      Participant
      Chirps: 21
      Clay-colored Thrush (Turdus grayi) 01 Clay-colored Thrush (Turdus grayi) 02 Clay-colored Thrush (Turdus grayi) 03 We have a new visitor! Clay-colored Thrush (Turdus grayi).
    • Evelyn
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      The naturescaping is in the future on my new property. In the meantime, feeders and a water dish are attracting a variety of birds from the surrounding woods and meadows -- finches, sparrows, wrens, nuthatches, chickadees, tufted titmouses, doves, juncos, bluebirds, even a huge raven that came over to enjoy the seed I put on the ground. I'm hoping the fruit trees I'll plant will attract cedar waxwings -- such a beautiful bird!
    • Darlene
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      Since reading about attracting small birds by putting seeds on the ground under the feeders and  the cluster of lower bushes (3 and 4 ft) planted under the 3 dogwoods,  I've noticed an increase in sparrow and Carolina Wrens who are taking advantage of the new feeding area. Meanwhile the larger birds, white breasted nuthatches, downy woodpeckers, titmice and Carolina Chickadees (yes they are small) continue to enjoy the seed and suet feeder. I've only seen one cardinal this bird counting season. We used to have at least two pairs. I hope they have not become victims of the hawks. The squirrels in our area seem to be rather plump, diversion tactics and most devices have not worked, so we now are at a level of acceptance, they are part of our winter feeders. Planting is on hold at this point since its December and cold most days here. I am now looking at some of the seed catalogs i receive looking for native species to plant next spring.
    • Betsy
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Due in part to physical limitations in the past few years, my yard, where we have lived for almost 40 years,  has on it's own become a jungle.  The yard is small but it has a lot going on!!  It gives me joy every day.  Wonderful birds and insects abound, and I never get tired of observing the wildlife, big and small that live in it or wander through. Unfortunately, it is really out of my control at this point....fortunately, before I became so physically limited I planted many cultivated native flowers, wildflowers,  and bushes, and made two brush piles that are added to regularly.  Birds and other wild things love my yard!  I garden for birds, but also for moths and other insects.  Anything that a caterpillar might eat gets to stay.  I have a perennial garden in the front, which is really a survival of the fittest kind of situation.  I have put in natives, including echinacea, the small wild lupine, and milkweed (native?).   Wild asters, and goldenrod add to the pollen buffet in the fall.    Pussywillow is popular with caterpillars, birds, bees....  Trees on the property, oak, and spruce, sumac, wild cherry and walnut feed many kinds of caterpillars, mammals and birds.  Grapes run rampant.  Black Locust, while not a native,  keeps the Silver-spotted Skipper butterflies in food.  In our very suburban yard, we have the pleasure of having a lot of mammal visitors and residents....gray and red squirrels, black bear, bobcat (a new arrival in the neighborhood!), chipmunk, possum, raccoon, skunk, red and gray fox, rarely a coyote, meadow voles, mice, and once, a weasel. On the down side, I have battled for 40 years with invasive plants.  I have knotweed, bittersweet and multiflora rose, as well as a flower that I don't remember the name of that I planted years ago before I was aware that it is invasive....I'm afraid that they are here to stay.
    • Anita
      Participant
      Chirps: 20
      This is my first year gardening so I don't think I have anything "new" yet, but I've counted 28 species of birds so far in my backyard, and I hope to get a lot of new ones by next year.  I'm also hoping to pull out more and more lawn space each year to make room for attractive landscaping with a purpose.
    • I live in a suburb of Chicago and 10 years ago I started removing non-native plants and replaced them with natives.  Every year I add and expand the gardens and native plants and shrubs in my yard. Every year I find a new species of birds or insects visiting the yard. Over 30 species of birds; orioles, cardinals, blue jays, gold & house finches, chipping & tree sparrows, downy/hairy/red-bellied woodpeckers, white breasted nuthatch, doves, juncos, grackles, black birds, coopers hawk, redpolls & pine siskens during eruption years, indigo bunting & some warblers (including nesting wrens, chickadees, robins), 15 species of butterflies/moths/caterpillars, toads/frogs (leopard/green/tree, dragonflies (4 species), praying mantis, numerous insects, spiders ( including golden garden and yellow crab ), adult & larvae of green lacewing, ladybug & milkweed beetles, polyphemus moth cocoon? waiting to see), bees & wasps (including braconid wasp, bald faced hornet, cicada killer), chipmunks, vole and squirrels nesting in neighbors' tree (actually saw her move 4 babies to another nest).  I love to be outside listening to and watching the birds and insects. I never would have thought that by planting native plants (and stop using pesticides/herbicides) that I could attract such beautiful living creatures to my yard. I look forward to what each season may bring.
    • Michelle
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      After taking this this course, we decided to leave our leaf litter in the pollinator garden. We already have been rewarded by seeing a new species in our space--an eastern towhee--rooting through the loose, brown material for treasure.
    • Madalyn
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      I haven't started gardening yet (late winter still here), but I'm hoping to see more birds this summer after I add more native plants! One thing I wish this course covered was grass.  We have a lot of grass which I'd ultimately like to eliminate (I'm sure the neighbors would flip, but we live in a pretty open-minded town so maybe not).  One option I'd heard of in the meantime is to replace a grass lawn with a clover lawn.  I think it's more eco-friendly.  However, I know that clover still isn't native.  Is a clover lawn a better option for birds?  If you do have lawn you can't get rid of, what's the most bird-friendly way to handle it?  Thanks!  I really enjoyed this course.
      • That’s an interesting question about the clover. I practically have a clover lawn and it’s not by choice! One thing to be aware of is (at least here in North Central Texas), clover will take over. It’s easy to mow it down in the lawn (I also have a goal of getting rid of more of our lawn…it’s a slow process), but it is really a pain to try to keep the clover out of flower beds. It is prolific. I did a quick search and it looks like only game birds eat clover. However, a lot of insects and worms eat clover, and birds eat those insects. I can tell you I do have a lot of earth worms in my soil (but not enough to eat all the clover!). I would love to find out more about the benefits of clover for birds. Maybe it will help me relax a bit about how much I have in my yard!
      • Darlene
        Participant
        Chirps: 10
        Well we have clover growing in part of our front yard. To my knowledge no one planted it. I can't answer its value to the birds but can share the bees absolutely love the clover. When I go out onto our property in the Spring and Summer passing through the clover on the way to our vegetable garden, the bees are always present. I don't worry  about the getting stinged by them as they tend to be non-aggressive. We have both domesticated bees and native bees. I'd like to have bee hives but our area has a growing population of black bears and even our local bee association said hive keeping isn't going to be possible in our area due to the bears. So, I buy honey at our local co-op, a win for everyone. I have also enjoyed this class, especially the links to resources.
    • Emely
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      One important lesson I learned here is that while exotic plants may be beautiful,  local birds are more comfortable with native trees and plants. It took me a while to finish this course because I had to learn about our Philippine plants (surprisingly, I didn’t know much about them) and where to source them. But the learning was not only fun but enlightening as well. And, the results were amazing. I used to see and hear mostly Eurasian tree sparrows, but recently  the chestnut munia, yellow vented bulbul, Philippine pied fantail, olive backed sunbird , golden bellied gerygone and collared kingfisher have become residents of our backyard. We get a lot of visitors, too: pied triller, red keeled flower pecker, long tailed shrike, pacific swallows, and blue tailed bee eater. The brown shrike, supposedly a migrant, has been circling the neighborhood for weeks.8CCE01B2-AA1C-42AD-AB9E-E02613068FF0871930E2-FADA-498F-86CA-12232ED566A77715B030-8EA8-4CAB-BA31-A9458F94C32C
      • Beautiful photos! What a wide variety of birds you are attracting!
      • Darlene
        Participant
        Chirps: 10
        What beautiful photography and stunning birds! It's wonderful seeing birds from different geographic areas, your species are all new to me.
    • Ana
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      I picked a space to naturescape.  It is currently grown over with many invasive species.  We are currently working on clearing the space & planing what will go in next spring.  I'm looking forward to seeing native plants in the space and hopefully happy birds!
    • Jenifer
      Participant
      Chirps: 18
      I have noticed a few bluebirds visiting my yard since I started to put in more native plants. Also, hummingbirds have been regular visitors since I planted Cardinal flowers. I never saw them much before this. I want to expand my Cardinal flower patch this coming year. I have more insects visiting my flowers overall - from serviceberry in early spring to mountain mint (wow! What a plant!) to asters in the fall. I would like to see more birds in general on my property - hope that the more work I do, the more I will see. But, my property is small and my neighbors show no interest in the plants and improvements, one neighbor commenting when was I going to get rid of my “weeds”. So my very small yard is sort of an oasis in a desert. I hope that will change.
    • Leonard
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      Naturescaping and birding is a logical combination. Especially being novices, my wife and I are learning new things everyday and that is what makes it so exciting! We live in a temperate region in Northeast U.S. and along a major migration route for many species of birds. Our naturescaping is already reaping rewards of being able to view both increased populations and the number of species of birds (including predatory species like the Cooper's hawk-please see photo). I am posting photos on social media of our now very wild backyard! I also do wildlife rescues in the metro-NY area and actively spread the good news about the advantages of native gardening.IMG_1558
    • Via
      Participant
      Chirps: 21
      I, sadly, was not able to naturescape. :( also I love surveys but cannot do it because I am under 18 :( Also, I forgot to answer on the last "Reflect, Connect, and Practice" section, and it won't let me go back :( please respond.
      • Elizabeth
        Bird Academy
        You can revisit course content at any time. Go to My Courses, then click on Growing Wild. Scroll down to view the Course Content. Click Expand All to choose the exact topic you want to view. From there you can answer the discussion question. Alternatively, you can go to the discussion board directly. Scroll down on the page and click on Join a Discussion Group. Click on the Growing Wild group, then find the topic you want to comment on. If you have additional issues please contact Customer Service.
    • MarianWhit
      Participant
      Chirps: 16
      M6153249 Since "going grassland" from lawn on this property, we did a "before and after" bio-blitz, which is to try to find and photograph as many species as possible.  With the lawn we had...5 species.  With this, 4 years in, mowing 1/3 of it once a year, BUT knowing native vs invasive species and spending a few afternoons a year cutting the non-native thugs down so they don't seed and digging them out is essential to the success of this project.  We are introducing (repatriating) various species...blue eyed grass, cranberry, wild strawberry, and blueberry, etc. over time.  We also used to have Canada Geese on the lawn, but they now stay on the shore, and we have various sparrows, and several migrating flocks.  Interestingly, the gulls spend a lot of time above the field feeding on insects.  We can't imagine how anyone would find a static lawn more interesting than the peaceful movement of undulating grass.  We have the local summer camp kids come and discover that goldenrod is a "condo plant" for many insects and that a field is like a miniature jungle.  This small effort resulted in a massive increase in surface area.
      • Darlene
        Participant
        Chirps: 10
        Your grassland is beautiful! That's great that you have offered your space as an experience for summer campers. Who knows maybe you launched some future biologists, naturalists and gardeners.
    • I've always attracted a lot of birds to my yard because I have a lot of feeders and bird baths.  But I've made some changes that have attracted non-feeder birds too.  A couple of years ago I got the HOA lawn maintenance folks to agree to stop putting weed killer and insecticides on my grass. The upside is that I have Northern Flickers that now regularly forage for ants in my back yard grass. The downside has been that I have to get out there and dig weeds like dandelions, clover and crab grass (all of which I learned are not native plants - clover being the worst according to the Indiana DNR) and it's not a lush green lawn like the neighbors'.  Last fall, I left the leaf litter in the back yard planting area; I also got the leaves off the grass before the HOA did and chopped them up for compost/mulch in my planting beds.  And this spring, I did not disturb the leaf litter until the temperature was regularly in the 50s. This year I got a number of ground foragers other than Robins - like Brown Thrasher, Swainson's Thrush, Veery, Fox Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Eastern Towhee- that I didn't attract before. I'm fortunate to have big native trees out back that came with the house - oak, hickory, sassafras, beech - that host the various insects I have yet to learn about. And a dozen years ago we put in three hemlocks which we did not know at that time are a great shelter for birds in winter.
    • Molly
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      My goal has been to attract butterflies, bumblebees, hummingbirds, and other birds. I started my nature garden several years ago by filling in a low spot in the yard outside my window. Some of this soil came from compost, broken down branches, twigs, leaves, and mulch. I found it easier to start with tougher native seeds rather than nursery plants spoiled with fertilizers and pesticides! This patch is bordered with branches that serve as a playground for the inquisitive wrens. The branches break down over time and become future soil. One native I can definitely recommend to start with is partridge pea, which is very easy to grow from seed sprinkled on the ground, can grow in poor soil, gets to about a foot tall, and gets little yellow flowers on it that grow from the stem. It is a legume that can bring nitrogen to the soil and bumblebees love the flowers. Partridge pea is also a host plant for Sulphur butterflies, and caterpillars are what we want more of in the garden for birds. Doves, quail, grassland birds, and even ducks can eat the seeds and the plants can serve as cover if grown in large stands. I have it growing amongst sunflowers, Tithonias,  tickseed (coreopsis) , coneflower, American basket flower, blue salvia, turk's cap, and milkweed.  I also have American beautyberries to feed birds in fall and winter.  Mockingbirds love eating blueberries and if I don't cover them with tulle netting, they would eat all of them! Happy growing everyone!
    • Christopher
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      Noticed it increased diversity of the birds in the yard. Along with an increase in diversity of the insects (Lepidoptera) in the yard.
    • Karen
      Participant
      Chirps: 19
      It is early days yet, but I have noticed increased bee activity.  We added a bee hotel along with our new garden plantings and I have definitely noticed a lot more bees around!
    • Martin
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      I have not noticed an increase is bird species visiting my yard but there appears to be an increase in numbers of each species.  There are another couple pairs of American Robins in and around my yard.  More Northern Cardinals are hanging around and there appears to be a couple more House Wrens.  Hopefully when my flowers open up a Ruby-throat or two will show.
    • Maura
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      Just started, nothing new yet