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    • Bird Academy
      Bird Academy
      Bird_Academy
      What did you discover as you examined your outdoor space for what you are already giving birds? Share what you learned in the discussion below.
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    • Mary Jo
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      mp2162
      We are fortunate to have a number of trees in our yard and all around us in our urban neighborhood.  There are lots of pine trees, we have hickory trees in our yard and a water oak as well as dogwood and red mulberry.  I'm trying to plant more native shrubs and some smaller native trees and just added a pollinator garden inner front yard which has been fun to watch the butterflies and hummingbirds flying around and enjoying the nectar. We have numerous bird baths which I try to keep clean and one fountain for the birds as well.  They definitely love the water!  I have a number of bird feeders and we really enjoy watching the birds at our feeders.  We were lucky to have a young barred owl in our oak tree this spring that hung out during the day and slept and would occasionally decide to perch on our fence and the top of our patio umbrella-we called her Sage.  She has since moved on but we hear owls frequently.  I have to say I am enjoying the process of trying to make our yard more bird, and insect friendly.  I still have some ornamental shrubs and trees but adding more native plants is a goal for me.        
    • Linda
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      babybirdisinthenest
      I live in the city, in a rowhouse, which means my yard is very small and the neighbors are extremely close in, front and back. But it doesn't mean that I'm prevented from providing for birds and other wildlife wherever I have space. In front, I had a dogwood tree until last year, when it died. Birds, squirrels and insects made good use of it. So I plan to replace it, now that the cicadas are gone. There is a yew bush out front, and a big water dish on the ground. A gourd that is hung under the awning, houses wrens every year. The robins use the supports for hanging nesting material (long grasses) until they are dry. I planted a bed of purple coneflower, which attracts American goldfinches when the flowers are gone. There's a patch of catnip which is liked by bees and butterflies and other insects. I spread black oil sunflower seeds on the sidewalk near the street, in the early morning. The neighbors don't like it, but many birds come to eat it and some of those are pigeons, who eat the shells too, so the concern over attracting rats is modified. I get several types of sparrows, robins, cardinals, wrens, red-headed finches, blue jays, chickadees who come in the winter, juncos in the winter, rock pigeons in all varieties who come every day, the same individuals. At least two types of woodpeckers. Sadly, sometimes a peregrine falcon or a hawk. In the back I have a hedgerow and next to it is a shallow birdbath on a stand. A wren usually makes a nest in the top of the hedge. A cranberry viburnum provides red berries and shelter. I have a few bee balm plants, and a native rose that provides orange hips. A group of salvia, some black-eyed Susans. I have lots of non-natives too, like the large, tall, old butterfly bush. Butterflies ( two types of swallowtails, monarchs, and lots of smaller ones) flock to it like nothing else, so it does provide support. One year nine swallowtail caterpillars wintered over and emerged in spring. There's a shelter box on the back fence and a small bird bath on the balcony. I could add a brush pile but the neighbors wouldn't really get that. I'd like to add some of the native coral honeysuckle. I don't use any feeders, as they do attracts rats here.
    • Leonard
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      SDommin
      Our yard is very bird friendly based on the number of species that visit. It is still a work in progress as we are adding native plants and we need to add more fruit bearing bushes/trees. We also have a bird bath that I am very diligent with cleaning and maintaining fresh water and we have various feeders to add to their diets year round.
    • Bobbie
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Bobbie K.
      We have a lot of birds in our yard/property but we could plant more oaks and elderberries for sure. There's a hawthorn that the birds seem to appreciate throughout the winter for berries and shelter. By spring its been picked clean! I'd like to add more for ground cover nesting, grasses and perennials. I'm not good at identifying birds yet but they make me feel better just the same!
    • Andrea
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      amayer
      I work at the Missaukee Conservatoin District and we recently construced a bird bline for bird watching. We have a trail system that includes pine trees, hardwoods, a butterfly and pollinator garden, and native grasses along the trail. The plants that we currently have offer a variety of seeds, nuts, berries, fruit, nectoar, flowers, and plants for other intstects. Since, we have have plants that can provie food to birds in the summer we will work on having seed out in the winter. We could also provide a watering source and additonal bird boxes.
    • Jenifer
      Participant
      Chirps: 18
      jsmolnik
      I have been trying to make sure that I have all of the components needed for birds in my yard - water, food, etc. I face a huge challenge though created by previous owners. I have shelter but the bushes I have against the edge of my back property are burning bush, which lines the entire back edge. The bushes are so huge, I cannot dig them out. I will have to hire, I think, someone with a bulldozer to take out the roots. I need to think about redesigning that entire space. I live in Connecticut. Any suggestions would be great. My neighbors behind me don’t want to see the plants go because they are a great screen, but the woods close to me are full of these invasives. So, I am looking for screening plants - some natives that get large - but also perhaps a few fruit trees to provide more food for the birds. I thought about vibernum but have read that the virbernum beetle has decimated many of the plants in this family in Connecticut.
    • Noreen
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      Nerine
      I've got all of the above always but want more!
    • Armando
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      ArmAce3000
      In my yard, there are currently bird feeders with seeds, a hanging water dish, slugs, snails, woodlice, and some plants that provide nectar or even tasty flower buds. I didn't know that problematic snails were mainly invasive ones, and that the Americas had so many native snails that are so small! I am surprised to know that some birds eat these critters. It had never crossed my mind. I will probably look into how I can help out the native snails and thus the birds too.
    • Olivia Afre Segui
      Participant
      Chirps: 13
      NightwingMoonwatcher
      My yard was all the above exept water. Birds love our yard, and American Robins nest on our balcony yearly. It's been like that for as long as I can remember.
    • Kathleen
      Participant
      Chirps: 28
      kathleentitus
      I unfortunately have no oak trees, but I did save our neighbor's huge oak from being cut down! I was out in my garden and the workmen actually came over to ask me whether or not to cut it down! Amazing! I told them it was a very important tree for wildlife....and they didn't cut it down....One of those times I was in the right place at the right time :)  The many huge pines that surround my home are not native, but they at least provide excellent shelter during the long, cold, midwestern winter. I learned from this lesson that my large native prairie garden is a great source of caterpillars for baby birds. My prairie garden has many native purple coneflowers, so it’s fun to see flocks of goldfinches descend on them for their seeds in the fall. I learned in this lesson that some of my practices as a gardener for wildlife are especially helpful to insects and invertebrates: 1) I have left a corner of the back yard wild (completely undisturbed) and take Christmas trees there, where I pile up large branches to decay. 2) I hold off on raking as long as possible. I was also pleased to learn that I can research nesting boxes and where to place them from Nest Watch on the Cornell Ornithology Lab website.
    • Diana
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      q8K#wcM
      Our yard has all of the above except berries. It attracts all of the birds common around here, and we’ve had nests of robins, song sparrows, house finches, cardinals, catbirds, and Carolina wrens in our yard. It is so neat to provide a safe location for them!
    • Kristie
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      major88
      Both backyard and front yard presents plenty of space for shelter and nesting. We have a plum tree and there are plenty of insects and invertebrates. Could increase food production by adding more berries, more nectar-producing flowers, possibly adding a water bath. As far as nuts and seeds can add sunflowers to our garden plan.
    • Alejandro
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      AMHbirds
      Although in my small garden I have a wide variety of plants, I am not sure of those that produce seeds for birds, so my next task will be to find out and acquire some known plants, such as sunflowers and others that produce small pods. I have planted whose flowers attract hummingbirds, at least five different species, but I think it is not enough, so I have two drinking fountains, where they also use it as Cinnamon-bellied Flowerpiercer, oriols and sparrows. I have a water source, but somewhat neglected, now I know I have to keep it functional all the time. Although in my small garden I cannot have those big trees Prunus salicifolia, in my neighborhood there are larger gardens with those trees and I have counted that they attract more than 30 species of birds, including those migratory, such as several species of warblers when there are no fruits, that is, they not only visit the tree for the fruit, also for the invertebrates that live there. The Mexican Finch eats all the fruits of one of my apple trees, another tree still do not discover it, so I can eat some apples. By the way, the previous scientific name of the Mexican Finch was  Carpodacus mexicanus, which from Latin means "Mexican fruit eater", now I understand it. My purpose, to improve my garden is to offer more variety of food sources (snails and other invertebrates) and, if I'm lucky, places to nest. It is strange that in the plant markets of Mexico City, one of the largest in the world, there is not much variety of native plants and they prefer to sell exotic plants, so I will explore with wild native plants since I live near a forest, although, surely, I will have to understand how to maintain them properly.
    • Raj
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      drewshah
      Most birds that visit my backyard come to eat seeds and insects, drink water, and build nesting sites.I think I should also install a birdbath so that birds can bathe and have fun.
    • Stacey
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      S E Wilson
      I have a number of native shrubs, perennials...producing some berries (Eastern Red Cedar, Smooth rose, Flowering Raspberry, Asters (3 species), Goldenrods (3 species), violets, wild ginger, leaf litter, logs and brush piles, rocks throughout. A small pond with waterfall and a couple of nest boxes, feeders.... My issue is a few of the larger trees are non native-and though I would like to remove them-they will be trickier to get out-may need to call on reinforcements to remove i.e. Amur Maple, Ivory Silk Lilac, Colorado Blue Spruce, White Mulberry...I would love to replace with Ironwood, an Oak and possibly Hemlock or White spruce/Pine
    • Susan
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      svalett
      I want to increase the amount of cover and nuts we provide. We have a few birdbaths, but I've like to have a water feature eventually.
    • Frank
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      frankkahr
      Lots of evergreens and oaks in the yard.
    • Stacey
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      StaceyHeadey
      I have realized that I actually have a lot more in my yard for birds than I thought. Taking a bit of an inventory of my yard and how it fits into each category has been really helpful.
    • Jenifer
      Participant
      Chirps: 18
      jsmolnik
      The yard I live in has some pluses and some minuses in terms of trees, shrubs and plants. My yard has one large maple and several pines that border my small property on either side. I don’t have a lot of bushes for birds to hide in and build their nests in. One real minus is that the back yard border is lined with a bunch of very old invasive burning bush plants that my neighbor in back loves because it forms a really private barrier.  I would like to take these bushes out of the back but right now, I think I need a bulldozer to pull out the roots. It will be an enormous costly job that right now I don’t have the $ to do. But I will save up for this job and also would like to plan out what I would replace these plants with. There is not much privacy in my yard, and I will have even less when I take out these plants. I purchased two elderberry plants and would like to put them somewhere in the back. They are waiting for my to decide where I can put them; they are in enormous pots at this point. I have some homework here and any suggestions about replacement plants would be great - preferably bushes or small flowering native trees that can help replace this barrier. I have had a brush pile and a pile of logs which were originally going to be used in a fireplace, but the wood is too old and rotted. However, it has become a place where a skunk has set up shop and where a red squirrel lives and gathers pine cones from the trees. I also have some raspberry bushes one one side of my yard and planted a serviceberry there last year - what a beautiful shrub. I also planted a small peach tree in the corner of my lot near my split rail fence. I put in some plants along the fence including lobelia and liatris.  I put two winterberry plants (tiny) in my yard to try and get more berries for the birds. My goal is to replace the non natives in my yard with natives. I have a bird bath but realize I have been keeping it out in the open so I will move that to a shaded area under some trees. Overall, there is lack of privacy in my yard and I would like to create a private oasis - prettier and better planned. I have a small vegetable garden and have put most of my vegetables in, but still have some left to plant.  I try to mow sparingly and leave some grassy areas longer. I only rake leaves in some parts of my yard so that it looks ok to the neighbors who have very few plants and trees. One neighbor has asked us to take down a tree for no reason because they think it is too close to their house. We have trimmed the tree but we don’t believe in taking down trees for very little reason. Unfortunately, that is not the thinking of my neighbors. They frown on anything that looks “weedy” as well.
      • Karen
        Participant
        Chirps: 1
        karben
        I am in suburbia, zone 6A, NE Ohio. I finally realized late last year that my lot needs native shrubs. Out with the forsythia, in with salix discolor, arrowwood viburnum, American fringe tree, flowering raspberry (bare root), rosa carolina, American wild plum (bare root). The viburnums and fringe tree were from a wholesale nursery and four footers. Mostly I plant bare root or plugs otherwise. Much easier on the pocketbook, easier to plant, less shock to transplant. I am considering bayberry shrubs for next year. I have a couple of mature oak trees, 70 plus footers and I am surrounded by a small grove of oak, beech, chokecherry, sugar maple, so that helps tremendously for nature. Also, this is an older city neighborhood, with more enough vinca, wintergreen, ivy, burning bush, japanese honeysuckles to keep anyone too busy to do much weeding!    My goal is to space and plant the shrubs so they do not require pruning to keep them in bounds. Time will tell! I have left the leaf litter in my yard for the past three years....I just love watching the birds in the litter, plus all of the life beneath it! It is a big change from individual plants surrounded by mulch. I am hoping, as my design skills improve, that passersby and neighbors will enjoy the more abundant life and change their yards a bit at a time, too!
      • Stacey
        Participant
        Chirps: 5
        S E Wilson

        @Karen Sounds like a great yard-your zone is similar-I am 6A but in Ontario...wonder if it is the same zone chart? I have a pollinator patch between my neighbours drive and mine-it is adjacent to the sidewalk and it is fun to watch people walk by and notice the garden-stopping to look at things in there...I have been replacing non natives with native species and have introduced goldenrod and asters in a "landscape designed" way...this seems to show that you can use natives and have the garden "look nice" too...I am waiting for the goldenrod crab spiders to show up this season!

      • Jenifer
        Participant
        Chirps: 18
        jsmolnik

        @Karen HI Karen - I am so hoping the same - that my neighbors will change their view on how to keep their yards. So far, that has not been the case. One of my neighbors has not been around much and his back yard was turning into a beautiful meadow (he had chopped down all of his trees). I asked the neighbor further down the road to not mow  his years (he does it because he can I guess) a small patch of it because the blue birds were accessing some bugs in that area. But he went ahead and mowed everything down in 5 minutes!!! So much for neighbors!

      • Jim
        Participant
        Chirps: 19
        Jim Fuehrmeyer
        I live in northern Indiana and learned about things like amur honeysuckle and burning bush only a few years ago. I had two burning bushes that were only about six feet tall and I got rid of them three  years ago.  I dug around them and used a hatchet to chop out the roots a section at a time.  Then I just kept digging and prying. It took a few hours for each one. I've since put in Ninebarks which are doing great.  One got its first flowers this spring. I put in an elderberry bush - Black Lace - before I knew the difference between native and non-native plants. I don't have any other elderberry (two others, not black lace, didn't make it through the first winter) and don't think there are any in the area so I do not expect it to fruit.  What I do want to find out is whether  I need to pull it up or not.  From what I have seen in google searches thus far, it's not considered invasive at the moment.  But also what I've seen tells me that if I get a native elderberry, it might pollinate the Black Lace.
    • KERRIE
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      BigKPasoBird
      What do we have to offer? Oak trees, tree litter and one native plum [prunus] tree presently covered in aphids. I hate that tree [its messy, is spread everywhere by birds, rats and squirrels sprouting willy nilly, as well as its covered in thorns] but the bees and birds do seem to love it - so far it stays. Ah yes, we also have two elderberry shrubs. Both of which had gotten quite scraggly and were chopped back severely last year. This year they have sprung back with new vigor offering shade to our llamas and hopefully lots of berries later in the season. Other than that there is very little on our property but "weeds and ivy" - which I must admit are a great home to spiders and lizards until May when we have to whack it into the ground. We live in what is considered and is now being called a "Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone" or VHFHSZ. We live in the canyon consumed by the 1991 Oakland [CA] Hills Fire. Every year we are subject [necessarily for the community's safety] a fire inspection to make sure that we are fire safe [or safe-ish]. We are in drought conditions and things grow on the property. If the fire marshal had their druthers, our lot would be a bare patch of earth. Nothing there = nothing to burn. The trees on our lot are all re-sprouts from old majestic Live Oak that covered the hillside prior to the fire. Several of the returning oaks have grown quite large and haven't had much pruning. Very little has been done in regards to landscaping around the house prior to this year. The yard would be weed whacked to the ground and leaves racked and that was about it. Our lot is a hillside, the ground being one hard glob of clay soil more akin to cement in the summer than dirt to be tilled lazily on a summers afternoon of gardening. This year I've decided to act upon my daydreams of creating a landscape to balance safety, and a healthy ecosystem that sustains a natural habitat. So far I've dug a 2-1/2' x 9' plot that looks more like a grave than a garden plot but now holds the sprouts of what will be an asparagus garden. The deer love it. That's one for nature! My second act is natural erosion control with logs and branches. Not much appreciated by the fire inspectors but we are working together on that. Happy lizards! This class is my third act towards bringing all my hopes and ideas into one clarified plan and creating a happy place for nature to exist. Wish me luck!
    • Martin
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      mjroncetti
      In my yard, I have a small pond feature (~50gal) which contains three goldfish and a couple species of plants.  I also run a filter/pump combo to  assist in keeping the water moving, clean and aerated.  Also in my yard, I have several raised beds where I plant a mix of annuals, biennials and perennials all with the intent of attracting primarily birds.  I feed year round with seed (sunflower {mostly Black-oil}, millets and Safflower), nuts (peanuts out of the shell) and during the warmer months of spring/summer/fall, I offer sugar water for the Ruby-throats and Baltimore Oriole.  A few years ago, I planted a Pin (or Fire) Cherry - Prunus pensylvanica in my yard to attract insects and of course, birds.
    • Jim
      Participant
      Chirps: 19
      Jim Fuehrmeyer
      This year I've learned that I have quite a bit beyond my bird feeders.  I have trees with nuts - oaks, hemlocks, and beech and trees with fruit - sassafras and serviceberry. I have good shelter with three large hemlocks.  I never paid much attention to them before this spring when I started doing a weekly survey using Nature's Notebook. I started working in native plants last year and also began leaving the leaf litter on the ground. This year I've seen lots of ground foragers in the leaves and under bushes - like sparrows and thrushes. I had a small wood pile this winter for the first time and noticed a Carolina Wren around it almost daily.  I'm retired now and obviously will have to pass this house on to someone else down the road. I want to make sure I have plenty of native plantings around the yard so that even if the next owner is not into birds/wildlife the yard will still be a suitable habitat for them.
      • Jenifer
        Participant
        Chirps: 18
        jsmolnik
        Wow Jim - Sounds like you have been doing a lot of improve your place. What is Nature’s Notebook? I see you have taken a lot of Cornell courses - was it something that was covered in one of them?
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