• 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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    • Fred
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      My wife and I are lucky to own a small farm in New England. We have been steadily planting native flowers and shrubs, as well as providing water, bluebird houses, elevated perches, brushpiles, standing dead flowers, fruit etc. as described in this course. We are also lucky to have almost no deer pressure on our plantings -- judging by other comments here, that is unusual! We see many migratory and nesting birds, and one category not mentioned as often, raptors -- even witnessed a red tail hawk snagging a mourning dove on a power line! That said, we are interested in improving the habitat value -- learning by observation what is still lacking in our habitat.
    • Deborah
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      There are shrubby places near our house where I hear birds calling during the winter. I would like to plant some evergreens closer to the house to give the birds more cover there also. The small creek near our house must be providing water for the birds. Perhaps next summer I can put some flat field stones in it to help give them perching spots in shallow places. A small woods at the edge of our orchard has pine trees and oak trees in it. Someone, blue jays I suppose, brings acorns from there each year and plants them in my vegetable garden. I have gradually been focusing my perennial beds toward plants native to eastern North America in order to encourage pollinators and a diverse insect community in my yard. Happily, it seems like I've been helping the birds at the same time. I have some american hazelnut bushes for nuts, viburnums, red and black chokeberries, and a pagoda dogwood for berries. My current favorite perennial flower is probably anise hyssop. It is such a wonderful plant for bees, and last weekend some goldfinches were feasting on its seeds.
    • Angela
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      I have slowly been transforming our yard from grass to garden spaces. I have a varierty of native wildflowers. It is particularly fun to watch the goldfinches come in during the summer to feed on all the purple coneflower, balck-eyed susan blazing start and other seeds. We also have a lot of large pines and some deciduous trees and shrubs like red bud tulip poplar, sumac, sourwood and oak. Our yard was lacking shrubs, so this past fall I planted a variety of native shrubs like viburnums, spicebush, red chokeberry, buttonbush, shrubby st johns wort and fothergilla that I hope will invite more insects and birds. I have some bluebird boxes that need replacing. After watching this I now replace one bluebird box, but I also want to make ones for smaller birds like chicakdees and nuthatches. I see these birds in my yard but they rarely use the boxes. Hoping a size specific  for them, that the larger bluebirds cannot utilize, will give the smaller birds a chance to use it
    • Renee
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      We've got lots of pinecones and acorns as our yard is partially wooded, but I'm not sure about other seeds. We don't really have any wildflowers. I added a couple of native beautyberry bushes two years ago. One of them made lots of berries last year, the other one seemed to have leaves but no berries. If the blueberry bushes I just put in survive, that will be another berry source. Plenty of nectar here with lantana (I know, not native, but contained in a planter), azaleas, and tulip poplars. Lots of insects, spiders, and invertebrates in/under our leaf litter and I always see plenty of worms when I work in the veggie garden. Based on the info from this section I'm planning on moving our birdbath to a more protected spot next to a shrub; it's in a fairly open spot now and that may be why birds seem to prefer bathing in the saucers under my container plants on the deck!
    • Allison
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      We were fortunate to inherit a yard (20 years ago) where the original homeowners had sought to leave as many trees as possible.  We have lots of mature oaks and other native trees, and we're able to promote leaf litter, debris and brush piles.  From this course and other research, I am better understanding why some of the fruits and berries I do have may not be attractive to birds.  I think I need to replace my non-native beauty berries and non-native hollies with native varieties.  The same applies to seed heads --  I need to replace my non-native black-eyed susans and asters with better varieties.  Some of my coneflowers may even be non-native.  Happily, I see evidence that caterpillars are munching my leaves, even though I never see the caterpillars themselves.  Hopefully the birds are getting there first.  One day, I was disappointed to see a new hibiscus (in pot) covered by Japanese beetles.  By the next day, the beetles were gone, and they were never a problem again.  I hope some of the larger birds in our front yard were eating well.
    • Darlene
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      This chapter has been very helpful, particularly regarding items that can harm birds, as I've read articles that actually advise leaving pet hair (yes, ours are treated with flea and tick prevention) and string/yarn to for birds to use as nesting material. Also, obtained new knowledge about types of bird food and the importance of healthy fats. We were glad to hear that sunflower seeds are helpful and why some birds may not be drawn to certain seeds. For example, I grow amaranth in our veggie garden to draw pollinators such as bees but the birds seem to ignore the seeds. We leave some in the garden and assume the deer like it as the seed heads eventually disappear.
    • melisse
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      We have a good variety of seeds from a garden of sunflowers, zinnias, black-eyed susans...which I leave standing over the winter. We have several acorn-producing red oaks and a lot of red and white pine cone producers! Of the fruit-bearing trees...the most sought-after fruit are the crab apples and mountain ash. Now in late November, we still have plenty of winter-berry, hawthorn apples and high bush cranberry. This year we had an over abundance of apples and grapes which is allowing me to learn more about bird preferences! The red bellied woodpecker and the blue jays love the apples. The cardinals, one remaining robin and the bluejays like the grapes...purple grapes preferred over white grapes. I enjoyed being directed to "insects and spiders" by this course. Unfortunately no birds eat the rose chafers that attack annually in mid-June for three weeks. The robins and the flickers seem to like the unplanted garden spaces...I thought for worms and grubs. But we have a plethora of wolfe spiders...which I now can visualize being of interest to these same birds! I would like to offer water after freeze-up...finding the right heated container is one goal. What I have used in the past is too deep. Our "tree cover" for shelter is changing. Over the 31 years we have lived here...the deer population has become so intense that tree reproduction is difficult...any new trees must be fenced. Maples and birches are dying. I added our asparagus stalks to the brush pile...the deer loved the softer ferny branches! Nothing has flown out of the pile when I approached as yet. I will watch for tracks after snow fall!
    • Mary
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      Seeds and nuts? I have some grass seeds. Lots of thistle for the finch's. We have a good oak tree for acorns. Wildflower seeds not so much. Had a row of Echinacea for a couple of years and it died out. I have thrown wildflower seeds into the grassy areas, but only a few plants came up. Berries and fruit? Wild berries are invasive honeysuckle, bad thing, and Polk berries. Nectar, flowers, and sap? Needs work. Have lost several maple trees. Insects and spiders? Plenty Other tasty invertebrates, like snails, slugs, or woodlice? 2 tree stumps and several downed tree limbs and brush piles. Water? 5 ponds behind us. A small creek on our north side and a large flowing creek across the street. I put out several pans and a solar bowl after freezing. Spots for shelter and nesting? Small woods and brush west and north of us. I have 5 blue bird boxes out. I want to add more for other birds like the wrens who try to build on the back porch until the cats moved in.
    • mary
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      I have a smallish backyard in southwestern Pennsylvania. My back yard got dug up this spring for the sewer system upgrade. I have since planted native trees and shrubs and am hoping they make it past the deer and will have a glorious spring and summer. I also have my front year planted with various native plants. I found out I do have slugs so that was nice. I am looking into a few plants to add to my yard.  I think I am going ii. The right direction.
    • Dave
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      I live in Southeast Tennessee and I have a bluebird box that typically hatches three separate broods per season and I have another nest box with a smaller diameter hole that typically hatches one brood of Carolina chickadees per season. I also have a couple of hanging house wren boxes and typically at least one of them is used as a nest. Additionally, over the years I've also observed the following species nesting somewhere on my property: Carolina wren, northern cardinal, Eastern kingbird. I put out hummingbird feeders every spring and have frequent visitors. I suspect hummingbirds are nesting on my property or nearby. At certain times of year, when working on my garden, robins will hang around and take advantage of any worms that I dig up. I've seen snails and slugs on my property and often observe Eastern towhees scratching around the leaf litter in my yard. At various times, I've observed cedar waxwings, tufted titmice, Carolina chickadees, Northern mockingbirds and Blue Jays feeding on insects and or trees on my property such as dogwoods and black cherry. I've observed American goldfinches feeding on coneflower heads in my pollinator garden. I've observed Eastern bluebirds hunting in my front yard. They will perch on my mailbox and occasionally swoop down to the lawn to grab an insect or worm. I've observed a yellow-bellied sapsucker drilling wells on one of my hickory trees. I've observed Northern mockingbird feeding on a chokeberry shrub. I've observed Ruby throated hummingbirds feeding on coral honeysuckle and garden phlox. I've observed gray catbirds eating the fruit from American pokeweed. My birdbaths have attracted at least a couple of dozen species including Ruby crowned kinglet, rose breasted grosbeak, wood thrush and various warblers.
    • George
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Other than the snails & slugs, I feel I have the needs fairly well covered. Also, we've include milkweed and Joe Pye weed to attract butterflies.
    • brian
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      The biggest revelation I had from this was the number of birds in my area who are supposed to be eating slugs. I want to know why I have so many slugs with all these birds who are supposed to be eating them. If the identifications I have been given for the slugs in my yard are correct, they would seem to be introduced and I wonder if the native birds don’t have a taste for them
    • Barry
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      I live on 10 acres of forested land in Central Texas.  I have several vegetable gardens around the house.  I have one bird feeder that seems to be left alone by squirrels and racoons.  On the other side of the house I have a pedestal water fountain.  I want to provide more water for the birds near the feeder, but we have a very affectionate, young feral cat that has shown up and we feed her to hopefully keep down the mice and snake population.  I don't want her harming the birds though.  As far as I know she hasn't yet and she's been with us a few months now.  Most of the birds that I see come to the feeder are Northern Cardinal, Nuthatch, Tufted Titmouse and Carolina Chickadee.  None of them seem to be interested in keeping down the grasshopper population that eats up my vegetables though.  I used to have a Red Tailed Hawk in a tall pine tree in the woods behind the house.  That pine died and the hawk moved on.  I have see Texas Roadrunners in my area and saw a Loggerhead Shrike a month or two ago up on a tree.   The Merlin app identified a Screech Owl this year also.  It has been many years since I've seen a painted bunting here. I hope to encourage a greater variety of species to stop by for a bite and a drink!  Especially songbirds.  I'd love to be able to get Mockingbirds to visit! But what I've learned is that I need a larger variety of food types for the birds.  I have acorns from Oaks, Pine Cones, Mesquite seed pods, Yaupon Holly berries, Prickly Pear Cactus and not near enough flowers other than what is on my vegetables.
    • I plan things at this stage, as I will move soon.  Key elements I will introduce are small woodpiles.  Sunflowers or cone flowers as native plants, fire weed or penstemon are on my agenda.
    • mary
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      After my was dug up I planted the following: hemlock, white pine, dog wood and river birch. Shrubs are serviceberry and spice bush. I did also plaants so redbuds but not sure they will survive the deer. Have tried everything. my front yard to dry and flat so I have dedicated it to the flower or lower growning plants that attract birds like bee baum , sun flowers and anomies.  Have also swamp milkweed. Have bulbs in spring and let my dandylions grow. i really enjoy my yard, my birds and my plants. I enjoyed this couse as I am a continuing learner and always curious about whats happening outside.
    • Karen
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      In our efforts to plant native trees, flowers, and grasses, we seemed to have had some success in providing the food and shelter that have brought a wide variety of birds, pollinators, and other creatures into our midst. However, because we are trying to take back what I live to call the invasive species nightmare, we left some non-native plants such as a hybrid lilac and boxwoods in place largely because they provided such great shelter. However, that is all they do. I want to replace them with native bushes that are roughly the same height and have the same density of foliage, but it is hard to find these plants in local nurseries and I am concerned about planting bushes that are of the Rosea family which will attract Japanese beetles.  I would love to find beautiful berry bushes but without this kind of baggage.  Some of the plants listed in this section I will look into more directly in order to provide more fruit for our feather friends and help feed our much-needed insect buddies.
    • Bill
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Our home is surrounded by two acres of oak forest, unfortunately with an understory of buckthorn that is high on my list to attack as a new retirement hobby.  Also lots of what I believe is non-native honeysuckle.  We have a seasonal stream and a slough on the property and get lots of birds.  We maintain a pretty good size prairie garden with native plants.  We do not have many flowering trees with berries, besides one serviceberry tree.  Deer resistance would be a great topic for my benefit.  We have quite a herd!
    • Gordon
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      I appreciate all that you are attempting to do, educate the general public, however, over the last several years I've taken many courses at NYBG and have read the books written by Douglas Tallamy, E.O. Wilson and Rachel Carson as well as many others. My suggestion is the courses need to be geared more towards regions.  For example, one might assume that they could plant a Blue Spruce in Westchester County, NY and be doing good, but of course to do so would provide almost no benefit to birds in this area. So, these courses need to be at least generally regionalized. I must add that your organization has done a great service to us as the public and I thank you for those efforts. Might your organization consider offering online more in-depth courses on these especially important subjects like what the NYBG does with plants and insects?  As you are aware, knowledge of environmental habitats, ecosystems and biodiversity is particularly important.  My observations of what goes on in my neighborhood indicate that people still value large lawns of Eurasian turf grass, using pesticides, defoliants and artificial fertilizers and planting non-native plant species as if it were eye candy. Education is the answer to these problems and with that hopefully values will change. Thank you        
      • Marla
        Participant
        Chirps: 1
        We appreciate your thoughtful feedback. Here at Bird Academy, our small team is primarily dedicated to creating informative courses about birds. However, we recognize the importance of a healthy ecosystem to enable birds and other wildlife to thrive, so we’re doing some expansion into topics not covered in our previous online courses. Our targeted audience for the Growing Wild course is fairly broad, geographically speaking, reaching across continental U.S. and Canada. Hence, the first sections of the course cover guidance for any region, like the 7 keys to gardening for birds, and the basic resources that different birds need to survive. In the interest of keeping the course to a manageable size, rather than giving specific information for the myriad habitats in the U.S. and Canada, we included additional resources so you can find what you need for your own region. Our overall aim is to empower you to investigate the birds, plants, and other wildlife unique to your location by accessing the links we’ve provided to get you started on your own journey. Your suggestion to gear courses to region-specific areas is in fact something we are planning for the future, with regional bird-focused courses, because birds are what we know best. Naturally, no single institution can cover all topics in depth. We’re all partners in the effort to take care of our planet, and we applaud organizations like the New York Botanical Garden and numerous others that educate people on a wide variety of topics. Thank you again for your comments, and we wish you the best in all your nature endeavors! - Bird Academy Team
    • This lesson has been helpful for me to identify the plants and items I can use in my future yard to attract birds. I really look forward to learning about some of the plant species presented in this lesson to see what is local to me, as well as how help them grow!
    • Chris
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      My property is in a woodland edge setting. Water, nesting materials and nesting/sheltering places are available in the woody wetlands behind my house. My plan is to increase the availability of nectar bearing flowers, plants with edible berries, grasses, and plants with edible seeds that support birds and pollinators. I also want to start replacing the sod with a no-mow option of ground cover like white clover that will also support pollinators.  I'll have to plan carefully to choose plants rich in calcium oxalate crystals and other deterrents to reduce browsing by our local deer population.
    • Anita
      Participant
      Chirps: 19
      I have some items to cover the bases:  hardwoods like Oaks, conifers, shrubs like Black Chokeberry and Silky Dogwood, perennials like Red Columbine and Butterfly Weed, vines like Trumpet Honeysuckle, but the two main areas I would like to improve are my water sources above the standard birdbath and also either some native grasses or some ground cover for ground-nesting species.  I think in the year that I've been in my home the only two nesting species I've had so far are Black-capped Chickadees and a Red-bellied Woodpecker. I don't have any nesting boxes so maybe I could entice a Carolina Wren to stay if I put one up.
    • lynne
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Our home butts up to woods and a small stream. Our plantings include trees for shelter and many are berry producing. We prefer a wild looking space so there are plenty of places for pollinators to thrive. We set out seed and nectar for the birds. Would like to introduce more flowering  natives .
    • Anne
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      IMG_4393IMG_4394 I have alot of natural food sources but by goal is to add cover and maybe berries/flowers by the bird feeders.
    • Donna
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      In our shrub steppe we offer birds: Seeds and nuts : I don't know if seeds from rye, tumbleweed and cheat grass are attractive to birds but we have a LOT of it! Also two ponderosa pines (named Pondie and Rosa) :-). Berries and fruit: a plum tree and I just ordered 2 service berries, three snowberries and one choke cherry. Nectar, flowers and sap: Wood roses and nootka roses, mock orange and I am thinking our two new golden currents will flower. Also lupin, salsify, yarrow and I hope the kitten tails and prairie smoke survived the winter. Insects and spiders: Well, I don't really know. We see flycatchers so they must be eating something. Also grasshoppers, crickets, praying mantis occasionally. To my chagrin we occasionally get a millipede in the house. Other tasties: little green frogs Water: We have an irrigation canal across the back of our property that runs during farming season but no additional water near the house. Shelter and nesting: the ponderosa pines, a kestrel box that goes unused and lots of bunchgrass for ring necked pheasants and meadowlarks. I think occasionally owls nest in the grass too?