• Bird Academy
      Bird Academy
      Share your reflections on what you enjoy about your current outdoor space, and what you want to change. You can also offer your bird sightings, or your hopes for different birds you might see when you start gardening for birds.
      You must be enrolled in the course to reply to this topic.
    • Megan
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      I just moved into a new place in central Massachusetts with about a quarter acre surrounded by other houses. My favorite thing so far is how many birds we've had come to our bird feeders: tufted titmice, house finches, nuthatches, bluebirds, chickadees, goldfinches, and woodpeckers! Adding a finch feeder and suet feeder to the tray feeder I started with has made a big difference! Our newest visitor is a northern flicker who has been coming to my suet feeder. The thing I'd most like to change is that we don't have much vegetation yet. We have three big trees that our birds gravitate to, and we've embraced our messy/leafy yard, but I'd like to do more planting so we have more natural food sources and plant diversity. I also would love to establish a small pond for wildlife and set up an outdoor seating area for the warmer months so I can sit and enjoy watching our visitors!
    • Carolyn
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      My current space is not huge and is located near a city park with mixed evergreens & deciduous trees about a half mile from a river. My back garden borders a steep slope with invasive Himalayan blackberry but that still provides cover for many birds as well as raccoons & cotton tails . As a result there are a number of birds that fly by, over, and thru my garden.  I’m trying to have a mix of native and other bird & pollinator species . I try to garden pesticide free.  Many of the “usual” birds in my garden have become comfortable having me around. I’m working towards a more sustainable and nature friendly mix of plants.
    • Lisa
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      I live in Florida and enjoy the outside temperatures during this time of year.  I have made many mistakes and have learned from them so now I am looking forward to native plants and bird friendly areas. I tried some new plants but also rescued a puppy and let's just say he loves to garden also! So I have to keep him in mind when planning my area this time. Looking forward to just sitting and enjoying what is going on in my yard. I do not live in a development that has restrictions.
    • Renee
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      I live in a suburb of Atlanta. We have a partially wooded yard that is adjacent to a county park. Lots of birds visit our feeders and birdbath and there is plenty of wildlife in the area. I have started working on removing the invasive ivy planted by a previous owner and adding more native plants. However, it seems that there is monkey grass lurking under the ivy (at least it doesn't climb up the trees). I need to figure out how to remove it and what to replace it with. The yard is on a slope so erosion around the roots of large trees is a concern when removing ground cover. We have multiple tulip poplars and pines. Determining which native plants will do well in our soil/shade conditions is also a challenge. I've had a bit of luck with beautyberry and bee balm thus far - not so much with jewelweed, asters, or swamp sunflower. I also have a vegetable garden and am about to try adding some blueberry bushes.
    • polly
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      I live in suburban Chicago area, and I have loved gardening and birds for my entire life. Last year my husband and I finally took out a portion of our lawn in the backyard and put in prairie plants. They did well for the first year, and I look forward to see how they come back this spring. We plan on expanding the prairie eventually but want to do it in stages. Last year was the first year that I started a gardening journal, where I keep track of the plants that I put in. I habitually will buy perennials and put them in, then forget about them and can't remember what I planted the following year. We also vegetable garden and have some flowers. We feed the birds safflower seed, and we get quite a variety at our feeders. We also feed the hummingbirds when they are here in the late spring and summer. I look forward to adding to my knowledge through this course!
    • Allison
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      We live in suburban Virginia, with part of the yard in lawn but a nice wooded area along the side and in the back.  Our rear wooded area joins similarly wild areas of our neighbors' yards, and we enjoy the local birds and wildlife.  I inherited a pole and feeders a couple of years ago, and I love feeding the birds (typically about 15 different species every day).  I recently retired and finally have time to get back to gardening.  I've been learning about native plants, and I've been busy digging up the non-native invasives (privet, mimosa, ivy, Bradford pear, honeysuckle, and more).  It's been fun to identify some native plants hiding in my yard that I never noticed before, and I've been adding more.   I am trying to pay more attention to birds in other parts of our yard (not just near the feeders).  We have lots of nests in our trees, evidence of woodpeckers, sources of water, evergreens for shelter and a brush pile.  We don't use chemicals so I hope we have lots of insects that the birds are eating.  (I learned to appreciate insects in an entomology course at Cornell many years ago.)  Our yard is generally shady and the soil is not great.  The timing of this course is just right.  I'm hoping to get ideas and guidance to make our yard even more bird-friendly.  I'd love to eventually see a few more bird species in our yard.
    • Mary
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      We live in the northern part of Southwest Ohio. My husband had a stroke two years ago and no longer help take care of the yard. I have left parts of it go to "weeds". I want to add color and food to my wild areas. The deer like them and stop to eat. I have made small brush piles and left tree trunks for perches. I had cats dumped here last spring and now my feeders are kind of bare looking as I had to start trimming the grass around the bases. 20230212cover pg2
    • melisse
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      I live in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, and, with my husband, we've gardened for 30 years...a mixture of vegetables and small fruit-bearing plants on about an acre within a ten acre piece of mixed hardwoods and conifers. We've established an orchard of apples, plums and crab apples...all of which attract birds at various times of the year. As we enter our 80th year...our needs have changed...and our love for just watching what's "out there" is what is important. Last year we seeded half of the vegetable garden in native plants. I keep bird feeding stations and participate annually in Project Feeder Watch.  The pollinator plants now are seed-bearing plants...a large natural bird feeder! The goldfinches and dark eyed juncos are busy demonstrating the value of letting everything stand through the winter. I have two well established sitting-places, but I want to develop another one. I love reading what everyone else is doing...
    • Dave
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      During the COVID lockdown, for the first time in the 15 years I had lived in my home,  I started to pay attention to my yard and its role in attracting birds and other wildlife. I decided to buy and install some bird feeders, bought a bird guide and began to educate myself about the birds that came to my feeders. It was so enlightening and delightful and very exciting whenever I saw a species for the first time. As I read more and more about attracting wildlife, I began to pay more and more attention to what was growing on my property and learned of the importance of native plants. I soon realized, my first priority was to properly identify and remove invasives which sadly had overtaken most of my backyard. My front yard was mostly lawn. I soon joined my local Wild Ones chapter, enrolled in the Tennessee Master Naturalist Program and my local Master Gardeners program. All of these resources have made me much better educated about the ecosystems in my area and how to manage them. I slowly developed a plan to populate certain areas of my property with native plant installations and have been implementing it very slowly every since. I've transformed bits of my front yard to pollinator habitat and continue to remove invasives in my backyard and replace them with native perennials and trees. It's a slow process, but I'm making progress and gradually transforming my property to how it may have looked 60 years ago before my subdivision was developed. I'm taking this course to find ways to attract even more wildlife. I'd especially like to add a water feature and attract frogs and other amphibians. I'd also like to develop a strategy for having multiple natural food sources available year round for birds and have something blooming for three full seasons for pollinators.
    • Jill
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      I'm in central west coast Florida. Lots of invasive Brazilian Pepper plants to control but the birds love them for cover. My birds favorite tree is my Lacebark Elm.  I have suet and many orchids hanging there.  Several seed feeders in the yard as well as bird baths, blue bird houses, and a bubbling goldfish pond. In this area of Florida you have to buy tons of dirt and create raised gardens. This is very laborious and hot work.  I have several with many species of plants including native species.  All of which were planted with birds and butterflies in mind.  I have had 13 species of birds nesting in my yard in a season.  I have frequent visitors that return every year to nest. My flycatchers, hummingbirds, and yellow throated warbler are my favorite but I enjoy all of them - almost - could do without Mr. Blue Jay. Being in central Florida I'm surprised every year that some of my birds leave and migrate south maybe only 150 miles to Venice or Naples.  I'm trying to get Painted Buntings to visit my yard during migration. I did get a female Indigo Bunting this fall at the feeder.  Happy Gardening.
      • Lisa
        Participant
        Chirps: 3
        I live on the west central coast of Florida and had my first painted bunting stop by in the yard this past December. I was so excited!!!
    • Katalin
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      I have a lot of space and I have trees off to the back area. I sure like to do more with some of these spaces but the soil is so sandy and it seems to be impossible to work with.
    • Anne
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      I have had bird feeders out for the birds for years.  There are out there all year, and I give them suet also, especially in the winter.  I have one acre of land, with mostly trees all over it.  There are lots of hardwoods like maple and oak, and pine and fir trees also.  I have recently become a Virginia Master Naturalist, and my project is native bees.  So I have been building mason and leafcutter bee boxes, and planting native pollinator plants to provide food and shelter for them.  This is all new, and I am learning as I go along.  I have noticed more bees and butterflies in my yard as I work at this, as well as the birds.  Most of the birds I see here are mockingbirds, mourning doves, bluebirds, blue jays, cardinals, blackbirds, and hummingbirds.  I hope as I plant more flowering trees, I will get more variety of birds to see.  I put out corn and have five or six deer who come through in the evenings.  I am enjoying my yard and will continue to make it a haven for wildlife.
    • Susan
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      IMG_1719I have gardened for many years, but recently started focusing on native plants that benefit birds and butterflies. We are lucky to live in a wooded area containing many large Oak treesIMG_760869F72482-B64B-4CCB-AA00-D84A7AECB672_1_201_a
      • Amy
        Participant
        Chirps: 2
        Wow! Beautiful
    • I will be moving and plan to create a butterfly and bird friendly garden.  Last year, I obtained seeds of native flowers as first step.  I heard about a brush pile and hope to create one eventually (the place I am trying to buy does not have mature trees).  I am not a gardener but am motivated to convert a grassy backyard into a less water-requiring and healthier area.
      • Anne
        Participant
        Chirps: 8
        I am going to plant white clover in my grassy areas.  I have been told they need little water, but stay green.
    • mary
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      Starting with a clean slate  back yard after sewer replacement   IMG_2293
    • Linda
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      I became a master gardener in 2017, and that's when I really became aware of the beauty and value of native plants. I have changed my gardening focus: I now garden for wildlife with beauty as an added bonus. I'm working on planting natives and eliminating more and more of my lawn. The biggest challenge I have is combating invasives, especially since I am in a suburban environment and a at least 1/2 of my 1.28 acres is left wild. I have lots of different birds at my feeders in winter, and in the shrubs and trees in summer. I want to plant more perennial natives to attract greater numbers of birds to the insects and seed they provide. I find it all overwhelming at times, and would like to establish goals and a way of implementing them to feel like I have more control over what I'm doing.
      • Anne
        Participant
        Chirps: 8
        Sounds wonderful!  I have a pollinator garden that is somewhat manicured, but a patch by the road is just growing whatever wants to grow from the wildflower seeds I throw out there.  I wanted areas that I let grow wild on their own.  The other part I can work on and not get stressed.  It sounds like you are doing a great job, so try to relax and enjoy what has been done.  I’m still learning what plants are what and I get the ones I like.  I am a Virginia Master Naturalist and plan to become a master gardener next year.  Learning is so much fun!!!
    • Peggy
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Back yard already planted with many native and bird/butterfly friendly plants.   Front yard is large open grass - have thought often about converting some of it to plants/flowers/trees but kind of overwhelmed by the thought.  Also, regret that I didn't do when we moved here 19 years ago!  Then there are the deer!  Back yard is fenced but front yard isn't and local deer population treat it like a buffet!  They eat things in my yard that I see in other people's yard untouched!  Afraid the word is out that this is the place to eat!  I have planted many deer-resistant plants, only to have them eaten by deer over the years.  I also use Liquid Fence on some of the plants/flowers, but even that this year did not stop them from eating the Hosta, Sedum and Black-eyed Susans!  I have some things planted right in front of house and along both sides, but large open grass lawn from house to road.  Afraid I have procrastinated over the years and done nothing with it. 2023 Aug - House-flowers
      • Anne
        Participant
        Chirps: 8
        I think it looks great!  If the deer are really bothering you, I’ve been told you can have your yard sprayed with (sounds gross, I know!) coyote urine smell and other smells the deer do not like.  Or you can make your own spray with mint and water and I think deer aren’t supposed to like that either.  Worth a try!
    • Rosemary
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      I tick all the boxes.  I have a garden for the  birds, I pro vide food, shelter and water year round.  Not a square foot of grass, the garden is filled with trees, shrubs and plants and I get birds year round.  I don' t think I will see anything that is not usual in southern Ontario, unless they are just passing through.
    • Benjamin
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      Where I am living at now there are plenty of birds that fly overhead to wetland areas or to the woods nearby, which is great to see and have access to. Although, being able to create a space for them in the gardens around my house, would not only provide a great benefit to them as nesting habitat or for food, but to me, who wants to see them and appreciate their being! DSC_20
      • Anne
        Participant
        Chirps: 8
        What a beautiful shot of this bird!  Is that a nuthatch?
    • Penelope
      Participant
      Chirps: 38
      The Chipping Sparrow is perhaps my most frequent visitor. Whether skipping about my various DIY feeders, or in the undergrowth beneath pine trees, it always seems to be there.  Considering the fact that I don't quite have a garden, I would like to discover a space where I can safely transform with plants that won't intrude on anything. ThebestChipster
    • Alice
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      A the start of the Pandemic we made a lot of changes to our back yard.  The biggest one was that we ripped out an area that was overgrown with non-native invasive plants.  We put in elderberry plants in place of winter honey suckle and some other things.  Also made a bed of native flowering plants.  Some of those did better than others.  The elderberry attracts a lot of robins when the berries form.  They strip off the berries.  I'd like to have more variety in the yard as far as the birds go.  I have an American Beautyberry in the yard but the birds don't seem interested in it.  We have some flowering plants that the hummingbirds like and that's good.  I'm in the piedmont region in North Carolina.
    • Larry
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      Corn We built a back yard  from scratch with native plants, for the purpose of bird photography and human use. We started in May 2021 and already it has brought us a lifetime of enjoyment. Here in a St. Paul, MN suburb we have a lot of migrating species. I've recorded 65 species in the back yard and another 20 flying over or swimming next door. I believe the project has taken 15 years off my life, from retirement age to being a kid again. Well, that isn't 15 years, but you know what I mean.
    • Karen
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      One of the things that has happened to us multiple times is the interplay of both the songbirds and the predators.  While it is horrifying to see a Cooper's Hawk hunt down a House Sparrow, it was also fascinating to see how both predator and non-predator interacted.  There wasn't just one House Sparrow here, but about half dozen, and all of the trees in front and back of our house erupted with warning calls. We got to watch this magnificent raptor display its finesse.  We also learned just how valuable bushes with closely bound branches really are because they provided shelter for those that did not become lunch.  We love watching all of the birds--the Chickadee and Tufted Titmouse with their hit-and-run feeding tactic versus the House Finches who hang out in huge gangs and talk constantly. We've even watched House Finch fledges madly flapping their wings to be fed by mom and dad as they teach these newbies how to feed at the feeder. Being parents of human kids ourselves we feel for these stressed-out parents as they try to meet the incessant demands of their offspring.  What made all of this interaction possible was changing our invasive grassy plain yard into various native species pollinator gardens. We went from see only a few birds if any to an avian menagerie. IMG_20201206_074752137
    • Carolyn
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      I retired from teaching in June 2023, and now I have time to pursue these latent interests. We live on 38 acres of mostly wooded, hilly land, and I am excited to intentionally plant a native garden with a water feature. The Merlin bird ID app has helped me identify SO MANY bird species as I walk the trails.