• 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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    • I installed a large branch, cut in half, and dug it into the ground. I actually saw a woodpecker beak-drilling into it.   It was cool, because it is near my backdoor, and my original intent was to attract a woodpecker. It was a Downy Woodpecker. I also attract a lot of squirrels, and I saw a White Squirrel,  in the bird feeder/bath. 100_1680 I have read, that is is tough to have a bird feeder-yard-system, and not get squirrels. But it is good, I think, that the critters get healthy  food, and then when Raptors hunt them, they get a critter, that has had good food, and not Rodenticide affected food. I have seen some Raptors near me, but never in my yard. I have seen DOVES, WOODPECKERS, SPARROWS, BLUE JAYS, and once, a group of AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES. And a GRAY - TUFTED TITMOUSE.   Thx., bjorn k.
    • Moniqh
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      I had 2 birdbaths in my backyard and the one lowest to the ground definitely was the most popular.  Even though it is a plate on an upside down pot it is very popular with a variety of birds!  I had a beautiful birdbath that was higher from the ground, but they kept going to my homemade one! I like the idea of a solar pump so I may add a water feature with this.  I used to cut back my perennials for the winter but now will leave them, especially coneflowers.
    • Sherri
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      I bought a house last year and have a lot of non-native shrubs and plants, including a tree which my Seek app tells me is a Cherry-plum? Birds seem to like this tree a lot for shelter, but I want to find ways to better support them with Native Plants.  I think I'd like to keep the tree for habitat and because moss grows well on it, and it is quite pretty in the spring when it blooms with dark purple flowers. However, I'd like to replace the shrubs with native varieties. If anyone reading this knows if this is best to do gradually or all at once, I'd love your input! An exciting development this spring is the little baby maple trees sprouting in my backyard (either red or sugar, not sure which). I'm hoping to cultivate at least one of them and let it continue to grow. Free trees, can't beat it. :)
    • Keith
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Plant cover is important for many different reasons from safety, roosting, and nesting. Having watched birds for a while I now realize how important having shrubs for birds to hide in is important to draw them around my yard and something that I'm looking to add in the future. I also didn't realize how important ground level water was. Assuming bird baths were all that is needed having a ground level water feature can be very helpful and nice addition to ones yard.
    • JadeJean
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      ***Seeds and nuts?
      • We grew out a forest in the late-2000s, mixed wooded/forested (former ag/cow land), so there are definitely plenty of seed- and nut-bearing trees throughout the near 30 acres. I also do not like mulching/bagging/blowing fallen leaves, which allows the fallen seeds and nuts to be gathered by the more ground-friendly birds, especially for my mourning doves (Zenaida macroura). For the summertime, we generally keep a mowed pathway along the borders of the leftover bit of pastured area with only a few evergreens, not wooded, for efficiently safe human-and-dog travelling, which allows for grass and other types of seeds to build up within the open space, attracting plenty of insectoids and whatnot for more birds to enjoy, as well as our other little critters. This also allows for ample space for nesting birds that use the ground. Our red-winged blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) enjoy nesting at the edges of the forest in the thicket of the ground, which we do absolutely no mowing or grass cutting whatsoever once in the true forested section, except the main pathway to be able to gain access to the center and back. I have only worked on lower-end branches to facilitate better tree growth, especially in support against any invasives, which I also prefer to leave cut or downed branches/trees if possible.  Also, the pastured section being an open-country-style spot allows for our resident red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) to perch at the edge of the forest and monitor the open-country spaces in secession with other pastures for local Mammalia, since they generally are too large and slow to go after most of the Passeriformes. Our mourning doves (Zenaida macroura) are very smart, and I rarely see them when I see our red-tailed hawk, which we named Brigid.
      ***Berries and fruit?
      • This is definitely something I would like to focus on with shrubbery (open-space and forest-type shrubbery) and some trees to provide some more berry and fruit types. I do have my large, multiple tree species that bear their own very small berries, but I have grown (intriguing choice of word) very interested in planting some plum trees (Prunus), which my grandmother used to have before we grew out the forest toward the back, so this is something I will continue learning about greatly, especially Blackland Prairie wetland-specific berry- and fruit-bearers for use with my work with our local Wetland Center. With ample wooded/forested and open-country spaces, I have the opportunity to really diversify with these plants.
      ***Nectar, flowers, and sap?
      • I have done a significant amount of studying this group more so for my Wetland Center (Blackland Prairie-specific) focusing on the varying wet/moist/dry needs. On my homestead, we have many flowering tree species, as well as ground flowers (Sun/shade/et cetera), which is only eight miles away, so it is still dead center in the Blackland Prairie ecological region. I have always allowed them to grow as they will themselves to, but this is another area that I would like to incorporate more specific ample groupings of flowering plants to facilitate more creature life and food sources for birds and others in those areas on my land that need little attention. My whole life though, I have always loved sunflowers (Helianthus). Being former Texan ag land, we have actually regularly seen and still regularly see local pastures, when transitioning out of using cows, plant a vast number of sunflowers (Helianthus) to "reset" the soil. They are vastly important as they heavily feed off of aged manure (e.g., former cow pastures) while putting beneficial bacteria, fungi and microbes back into the soil. I also love watching them follow the sun, but that is a very personal thing and has nothing to do with my Aves! It has always made me feel more connected to them and has allowed me to see them as they truly are, as well as other plant-life, and that is living.
      ***Insects and spiders?
      • Oh, man, this is the funniest question for me. We have never had a problem with lack of insects and spiders ... at all. Again, Texas, Blackland Prairie, Rural, we have plenty regardless of what we do. I will say this, though. I do not and have NEVER used pesticides and have also never seen local pastures using pesticides, as they are mostly used for cows. If anyone ever needs proof, I will take them to the back of my forest to see the four-inch Monarchs (Danaus plexippus) that use our forest for protection/cover, as well as the numerous butterflies that surround my house. Last year, we had one butterfly that started out early and stayed throughout the fall. I would watch it fly past me every day. Butterflies really seem to like the way smell. He was a little bit of a loner, and I am quite unsure what type he was, but he was always there to greet me with his unique wing shape. For anyone that loves Monarchs (Danaus plexippus), they like milkweed. They need forested/wooded space for that protection as I have said, but they will travel to where the milkweed is! This is another reason why I love the way our forest has grown. The very center has a nicely sized clearing within the trees where a lot of these sun-loving plants will grow, but they are still safely within the forest for a variety of creatures to come to but still have that quick escape back to coverage and safety. Finally, we have trees that spawn NUMEROUS common green darners (Anax junius) EVERY year. We have one large, very old tree at the very front corner entrance of our entire property, and every year during spawning/mating, you can see thousands and thousands in a mostly green iridescent cloud above this particular tree. I am sure resident birds and birds passing through enjoy this.
      ***Other tasty invertebrates, like snails, slugs, or woodlice?
      • We have a natural spring and very large pond surrounded by the oldest trees in the newly formed forest, which they were there long before deciding to grow out the trees. We have a variety of all of these already throughout the land, as it is easy to tell after a rain when they come toward the top, but they are definitely more prevalent and larger the closer you get to the main water source.
      ***Water?
      • Other than the large natural spring pond that we have, there is also another very large pond in the pastured plat adjacent to ours. Other than that, I have numerous dog rescues that I use a cow-style, very large, 500-gallon tank that I regularly fill with clean water. Our dogs will use it to climb in and out when wanting to cool down, but we have seen larger birds, like blackbirds, perch along the edges and drink out of it. I make sure to keep the water topped off to allow them to not have to bend over so much. I REALLY want to get a solar-powered water fountain or some type of solar-powered watering system/trough-type that I can have in the back of my smaller backyard at the front of this property in tandem with our standalone, small birdbaths, which are a great size for our smaller bird friends, like our Carolina chickadees (Poecile carolinensis). The reason why this very specific location is because I have done some experimenting with letting out fresh water from our washing machine, which will dump into this region where a small pile of mostly large limbs that I had set up for many Aves to use as protection when bathing in the fresh water that builds up within it, and the birds get absolutely ecstatic as they love the sound of rushing/moving water. I was hoping to do something similar with a drip-type or solar-powered-enabled water trough-type system that is lower to the ground, so I can keep making these types of birds happy, too, which allows them to not have to travel so far to the ponds for that ground water, avoiding risks of aquatic threats like the cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus), or I may create a ground water fountain in this location and then replace the system of large branches back over it as protection and another food source.
      • P.S. If you ever hear someone talk about birds being dirty, well, then they clearly have a lack of fresh, clean, non-stagnant water in their area. Any time we have fresh water on the ground or in a shallow setting, we are always watching our varying-sized birds aggressively bath in their famously cute ways. Any chance they get to bathe, they do! I see it as no different than humans in the days of yore not being able to always safely and readily bathe when no suitable access to HEALTHY water. Finally, the fact that they are drawn to moving water, even with the slightest ripples, is another way to show they are smart enough to understand the benefits of clean, healthy water, which is usually connected with moving water, not stagnant. Give them the resources if you want clean birds!
      ***Spots for shelter and nesting?
      1. Water: Massive natural-spring pond for the water lovers. I would love to introduce wood ducks (Aix sponsa) one day, as they can be permanent residents in this region and will even make use of bird boxes surrounding water sources as such, or for any wintering hooded mergansers (Lophodytes cucullatus), as they LOVE thick trees surrounding water sources to use as protection. Our blackbirds also love being in the surrounding ground areas close to a water source, too, of course.
      2. Forest: We have a lot of evergreens intermixed within the wooded area, so we have significant lovers of this such as our Northern Cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis) and all of the other numerous evergreen-loving bird-types. We do have great-horned owls (Bubo virginianus), as they replace the red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) as the bird-of-prey during the nighttime, and I have personally spotted barn owls (Tyto alba) in the wee hours perching on haystacks, which can be rarer in this region of Texas, so I hope it stays away from the great-horned owls (Bubo virginianus), of course! I have yet to start the Wonderful World of Owls, but I did purchase it for this very reason. The other is due to the numerous owl-types at our Wetland Center eight-miles away from our homestead. When we were cleaning the surrounding roads for a yearly adopt-a-highway event, I personally and sadly found a former resident barn owl (Tyto alba) that had been hit due to a speeding vehicle. It is one of those unfortunate areas where the road suddenly takes a steep decline in a short distance, which there is no way for even a quick bird-of-prey to be warned, as you will not see headlights in time. I only prayed that it did not have nestlings anywhere, as barn owls (Tyto alba) already struggle a lot more than other owl-types when it comes to the way they choose to raise their young, which is fascinating in itself. I have also talked about and will continue to talk to them about how if we ever receive more resident barn owls in a walkable location that DOES NOT MEAN TO KEEP PESTERING THEM DURING THEIR SLEEPING DAY HOURS, especially if they are raising young!!! The point of bird-WATCHING is to not harass, of course.
      3. Woodland: Since this is a mixed wooded/forested region, our same friends above, as well as varying other different types, have a completely different source of tree-types to enjoy. This is a very diversified woodland. Our resident pair of turkey vultures (Cathartes aura), NOT BUZZARDS, will leave during the day to go searching for their tasty carrion, but they always come home to the center of our woodland where a very old barn, which I have reinforced, to sleep and raise their young. I will not lie. I was terrified when I heard them the first time. It was years back and thought we had a bobcat (Lynx rufus), as I have found feral cat skeletons up there, but instead these two revealed themselves with a beautiful display of opening their large wingspans for me before flying off. Luckily, I did not permanently scare them off, and they have been living there ever since, which could be up to 20 years. I have always left quite a few bales of hay up there at the top, which is why I originally was going up there and believe they used them for nesting with the way they were formed after the fact. I eventually plan to throw some more hay bales back there for their and anybody else's free use.
      4. Open-country: This is the final ecological region-type that I have on my land. A good chunk towards the front, as well as in secession with neighboring pastures, is open-country. This is the area that our resident red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) will regularly monitor at varying points, but always comes home to our forest when the day is done, and then, I presume, is replaced by some type of owl(s) during the night. Sometimes our resident blue jays (Cyanocitta cristata), when the red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) is not there, will perch in Brigid's spot. I have far-reaching binoculars that I use for my red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis). The first time I noticed this replacement of bird, it was too far to tell what it was. When I pulled up my binoculars, the blue jay (Cyanocitta cristata) was perched in the exact same spot while doing its famous hawk-style cawing. Some people question whether or not they are warning or in fact only pretending to be a hawk, but I definitely assume the latter due to the fact that they would do this in the exact same spot and when the hawk was nowhere nearby. I do know they home in the evergreens directly below that area too, so it could be a deterrent for local competitors or a hope to keep the hawk itself away, but probably mostly the former. We have plenty of oak trees (Quercus) for them, too, although we do not get as many species as in more eastern parts of the country.
    • Nicolas
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      I live in an apartment and don't have much space for gardening. However, I do have a pedestal-style bird bath near some shrubs (not sure if they are native or exotic). The areas surrounding the shrubs have pine tree bark as mulch, providing invertebrate habitat. I have a large tube feeder and a ceramic ground feeder that are both filled with black-oil sunflower seeds. Near the apartment complex, there is a grassy area next to a mixed forest; I've seen and heard a variety of birds, such as Blue Jays, American Crows and Carolina Chickadees. At my feeders, I've seen Carolina Chickadees, House Finches, Song Sparrows, Tufted Titmouses, and Northern Cardinals. I've seen the aforementioned species using the bird bath as well; Northern Mockingbirds and Mourning Doves have also used it. Some of my neighbors have tube feeders with mixed seeds that mainly attract House Sparrows. Once the weather warms up, I plan on buying some ferns, flowers and other plants that will help the birds!
    • Sabina
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      I added additional mulch to my yard as a substrate for invertebrates. I would like to add a water feature with moving water that can work as a bird bath. The challenge is for it to be visually pleasant and easy to keep clean. I was able to see what I learned in action. I cleaned my birdbath and filled with clean water and in the space of five minutes I had three different visitors: a towhee, a chickadee and a sparrow. It was a clear message that they were grossed out by my bird bath prior to cleanup!!
    • Becky
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      Our front yard offers quite a bit of bird-friendliness...we have a beautiful river birch, as well as some holly trees that the birds really love (and we've noticed some nests in the last couple of years). We have a very large pecan tree in the back yard that is wonderful when it's fully bloomed. I'd like to add some more shrubs and perennials to the back to give more fruits, nuts and shelter. Also researching a good option for a bird bath, and would like to add a solar fountain of some kind to keep the water moving (we definitely have enough sun here in Georgia to support that!). We do have an old log that was removed from the pecan tree that we left near the butterfly bush and some of the daylillies...and I noticed this week it has lots of little bugs all over it, and also had some wonderful fungus. So we'll leave it there and possibly add more from larger fallen limbs (rather than cutting them up and using them for firewood!). This lesson was very helpful and got me thinking of how we can add some plants and shrubs to the back to help provide a more hospitable and sheltering area for our birds!
    • Robin
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      We are lucky to live in an area surrounded by spruce trees, birch, choke cherries as well as all kinds of other native plants and dense forest.  We have gardens too, both ornamental and some fruits and veggies.  Thought there is a wet area nearby, it isn't running water, so a good bird bath with running water is needed.  I've also just picked up a nesting box that we'll hang up in the next couple of days, I'm still thinking about where is the best place.  Our feeder birds love black sunflower, so I plan to grow some straight from our bird seed around the yard!
    • Rose
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      We have plenty of nuts, a nice mixed woodland with living and dead trees, leaf litter, birdbaths and lots of shrubs and trees for shelter. We lack fruits and berries. I’ll need to research what might grow well in our shifting and deep shade.
    • Susan
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      I have a variety of bird feeders and several sources of water that birds and squirrels love. Use a heater for winter to keep water from freezing. Also have one bird house/nest box that is getting alot of business this spring from sparrows, last year house wrens. Will be re-doing a small patio garden this year to be native plants/perennials. Plan to remove the butterfly bush, want to replace with a shrub that is native as the birds love the shelter of the bush being near the bird feeders and water sources.
    • Liz
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      This was a very helpful lesson,  booth because I see that my garden already has many  features for attracting birds:purple cornflower, purple aster, crab apple trees, pine trees, leaf mulch, stumps, honey suckle etc,  but also has many gaps.   I would like to plant sunflowers this year,  find space for a native oak tree, a chokecherry and a willow, and particularly improve on the bird baths I have,  none of which has many of the recommended features and placement.
    • Mary
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      I am considering a water source for the birds that visit my yard. Also, I am keen on attracting blue birds- so I will be looking at the appropriate nesting box and possibly supplying mealworms. I am also planning two gardens that should help improve the current habitat
    • Kate
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      I have focused on improving my feeder setup this year and have enjoyed the winter bird watching.  I have a bird bath, but am considering a heater so that I can keep it functional through the winter.  I'd also love to add a solar pump for water movement.  As warmer temperatures come I am looking forward to planting more flowers for nectar.  There are already quite a few oaks, birches and a willow tree that becomes quite a hub of bird activity in spring and summer.  This year's big project will be replacing the burning bush with a native shrub that will provide better shelter and fruit.
    • Colleen
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      We just built a house last year on what used to be a farmer's field, so our yard was an acre of flat, blank slate. No mature landscaping. I had the chance to get some plantings in last summer. I concentrated on mostly native plants for pollinators but have a few "well behaved" non native favorites as well. In the summer I have 2 birdbaths (one has a solar waterfall feature), several birdfeeders and a few birdhouses but I have learned now what better kinds of seed to offer and where to better place my houses. Unfortunately we had to get the foundation of the house sprayed for spiders which I was not thrilled about but my flower beds went untouched. Anyways, I have lots of great ideas planned for my future gardens... Small to medium sized trees, berry bushes, tall grasses, and flowering perennials from all-native-selling nurseries. Possibly a small pond or water feature. There are so many possibilities it makes my head spin (in a good way)!!
    • laurel
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      I have a new feeder, not very popular yet.  I think I have to experiment with types of seed. As for plants--lots of mustard garlic, and many black walnut trees.  Not much light. Many volunteer plants like snow drops, winter aconite, squill, dafs, forget-me-nots, dame's rocket, a few strawberries.  Not very bird friendly.  I'd like to add coneflower, spiraea, other natives.  But I don't know if there's enough light.  Maybe I have to cut down some walnuts? I'd like to have different kinds of trees, but walnuts are very pushy. I've noticed as I walk down my street that the block to the south of me sustains more birds than our block.  I think it's because there are lots of sheltering trees and bushes and shrubs.  I'm always struck by the birdsong that becomes apparent as I walk south.
    • Christi-June
      Participant
      Chirps: 16
      We leave feeders and scatter seeds as well.  As for berries we unfortunately have some invasives that we need to get rid of (one is known to poison birds which explains why we never see them eat it, I have clipped all the berries and discarded them for now.  We do have some holly.  The flowers I have are not natives, I would like to have native wildflowers and plan on making our mound septic a wildflower meadow. I have seen a lot of daddy long legs in our yard and I suspect we have other insects under the fallen leaves which we have not raked.
    • Peggy
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      I have two oak trees.  I have quite a few boxwoods and  nandinas as one of our local horticulturists swears by them.  The cultivars don't have berries which is good, but the old one that was in our yard when we bought the house does.  Next year I will prune out the berries.  I put in two pollinator gardens and plan to covert more areas to native plants this spring.  I already had two Turk's Caps which the hummers love.  I live in North Central Texas.  Fortunately, we have a native plant society which I belong to.  We have several nurseries that carry native plants, including one that has a large selection.  The native plant society also has a plant sale in the fall.  On my to-buy list are a Mexican plum and some type of evergreen tree.  I also believe that I will plant a Yaupon holly which will give me another small tree.  And I will add some native grasses (I have a very large backyard.) as I learned this fall that butterflies like to rest on the blades of these grasses.  I do have a bird bath and added a small plastic bowl to one of my pollinator gardens, put some rocks in it and added water for the butterflies.  My sparrows discovered it and prefer it to the birdbath.  I have many bird feeders: peanuts in and out of the shells, safflower, sunflower hearts, a flaming hot seed cake and a squirrel feeder on the back fence.
    • Ilona
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      I'm in the process of adding native plants to my yard. I'm removing all non-native shrubs and have added a pollinator garden.  I have an oak tree and shagbark hickory, but most of the remaining trees are Norway maples which I can't get rid of. I'm also eliminating my entire front lawn and adding native plants. My biggest challenge is finding the native plants for my area. Most nurseries carry invasive plants or cultivars.
    • Mary Jo
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      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
      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
      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
      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
      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
      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.
      • Jackie
        Participant
        Chirps: 3
        Why don't you like the burning bushes in your yard?  Are they bad for the birds in some way?
      • Jackie
        Participant
        Chirps: 3

        @Jackie Ah, nevermind, I just learned the answer in the next chapter...because birds don't use these invasive species like they do native ones and, thus, they grow out of proportion!

    • Noreen
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      I've got all of the above always but want more!
    • Armando
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      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.
    • 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
      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
      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
      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
      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
      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
      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
      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
      Lots of evergreens and oaks in the yard.
    • Stacey
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      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
      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
        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

        @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

        @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!

      • 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
      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: 6
      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.
    • 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
        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?