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    • Bird Academy
      Bird Academy
      Bird_Academy
      Did the keys to gardening for birds surprise you? Are there keys that you are already doing in your yard, or maybe keys you think might be particularly hard to do? Share your thoughts in the discussion below.
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    • Margo
      Participant
      Chirps: 9
      MargoHa
      I don't think I was surprised, and I'm satisfied that our yard already includes many bird friendly features.  I can't take all the credit.  When we moved in five years ago, there was little lawn.  Removing what was left wasn't that hard!  We did have an issue with bird strikes in the windows, and one surprise was the recommended distance for feeders to be close to or away from the house.  We did install stickers in windows, which weren't very effective.  We switched to BirdSavers (https://www.birdwatchingdaily.com/gear/preventing-bird-window-collisions/strings-nettings-screens-prevent-bird-window-collisions/) two years ago, and those have worked very well.  You are right.  After a while, you don't even notice them. I have had to work at embracing some messiness.  It is harder than I expected to not rake or rake toward gardens, but leave the leaves!  Leaving limbs and having a rough area in the yard is working fine.  With the range of birds that visit, some of the plants I have added have been eaten pretty quickly by the combination of birds, rabbits, and squirrels.  At least I don't have deer!  I laugh every time I read a comment about leaving the coneflower heads to the birds can eat the seeds.  Some hungry animal eats the heads off the flowers before anyone gets to the seed heads. I would welcome suggestions for berries and nuts that work in the Pacific Northwest.  I do have Oregon grape and beauty berry in my yard.  I'm thinking of adding a native blueberry.  I do have pines and evergreens and lots of pinecone seeds.  Thanks for any suggestions.
    • Leonard
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      SDommin
      Overall, I believe we are making good progress in the right direction. For a small lot we have good diversity and high percentage of native plants and trees that are in turn attracting a diverse group of birds, mammals, and invertebrates. We also have good vertical diversity ranging from  a mix of native  and non-native ground cover to shrubs and trees with a maximum height of 50 to 75 ft (includes oak and spruce). We also provide fallen leaf coverage where ever possible. Areas of improvement would be to add more native fruit-bearing vegetation for year round foraging. For bird safety, we make sure all outside lights are turned off at night and window blinds are angled to reduce reflection during daytime hours. One problem I continue to have is that of neighbors continuing to let their cats outdoors! (verified by a camera trap photos).  This is a not a new problem across our country (or the world) but it needs to be more openly addressed. I do wildlife rescues and I try to educate the public that keeping their cat indoors is also safer for them...and they are just as happy.
    • Jenifer
      Participant
      Chirps: 18
      jsmolnik
      I need to definitely work on vertical diversity in areas of my yard. I also want to increase my offerings to birds especially during the winter months to provide more berries and more nuts. This will be a strong focus for me since in the past birds in my area have relied on the feeders I had out. Now I want to get away from feeders because of the number of diseases that seem to be affecting birds nationwide.
      • Margo
        Participant
        Chirps: 9
        MargoHa
        I agree and like you am working to reduce my birds relying on feeders.  Our area of WA State had a terrible experience with pine siskin finch swarming and an outbreak of salmonella area wide.  I hope I don't see that again.  I have many recommended features in my yard already, but the yard is pretty thin on nuts and berries.
    • Andrea
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      amayer
      Our bird blind for bird watching is located along our trail system that includes evergreens, hardwoods, and a wide variety of native plants that can support birds, butterflies, moths, and other insects. We need to add a bird bath as well as increase the vertical diversity around the bird watching blind.
    • Noreen
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      Nerine
      I have a small space that I'm transforming. Bye Bye lawn, hello  biodiversity.
    • Kathleen
      Participant
      Chirps: 28
      kathleentitus
      I have been gardening for wildlife for over 10 years, so I was already familiar with these 'keys to gardening for birds'. It's an ongoing process, though, so I am still getting rid of more and more lawn - and adding more and more native plants, improving biodiversity, along with vertical diversity. I inherited a lot of beautiful, very tall (90 ft!) mostly non-native pine trees and a few large native hickory trees - to which I've added smaller native trees, native shrubs, and a large native prairie garden. The smaller trees and shrubs created better vertical diversity. Hedges along the borders of property are called 'wildlife corridors' and I have worked on creating these, too, as they are also important to wildlife. My best success is probably my  native prairie garden because it has so much biodiversity and prairies are so badly needed now in the midwest. I've learned to be more messy and appreciated the support about that in this lesson. It can be hard to be in the suburbs, where everyone else has such a different approach to landscaping. In terms of keeping birds safe, a tip I can share is that I did have a window that was hit by a bird and putting a feeder right in front of it, along with decals solved the problem. Decals can only last 3-4 months, though. 'Feather Friendly' has a 'Window Collision Tape' with a dot pattern that lasts 10 years!! If the view out the window is important, decorative film.com has vertical or horizontal stripes (Solyx SXBSFH) that are probably among the least distracting. Otherwise, one can have some arty fun with stained glass, window gem effects, or patterns (birds, snowflakes, etc).
    • Margaret
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      MargaretTassaro
      I have a small, urban yard in central Michigan. While my space is small, I am encouraged by the increasing number of native plantings and grassless yards in my neighborhood. An urban farm nearby recently installed a native pollinator seed library, so I hope more people consider natives when caring for their lawns. I have a fairly good assortment of native flowering plants including: purple coneflower, black-eyed Susans, bee balm, columbine, blazing star, irises, sunflowers, and hostas. I have given consideration to when these flowers bloom, mostly because I like to look at flowers through spring, summer, and fall. I have some vertical diversity with a flowering street tree out front and a large lilac shrub and trees surrounding my backyard. I do have a small bit of grass in my front yard and a small backyard. Over a few years I have gotten rid of some grass, but I have young kids, so I don't think I could go completely without some open space. Embracing some messiness was a good reminder to leave flower heads and stalks. A challenge, though, is that many zoning ordinances require grass to be cut and brush piles cleared (at least what is visible from the street). This lesson provided a good reminder to clean my feeders (although currently I have taken them down due to the bird illness moving across the eastern US). I did not know about the importance of feeder placement and will evaluate my feeders when I put them back up. Outdoor and feral cats, sadly, roam my neighborhood. I am not sure there is much I can do about the cats. I aim for my yard to have a look of tidy wildness. From this lesson, I will look into adding a moving water feature to my yard (likely a small fountain) and more native plants (ferns, lupines, phlox, yarrow, small berry producer). Limited space will be my biggest challenge, but I could give up more of my front yard. I might consider lasagna mulching in the fall.
      • Jenifer
        Participant
        Chirps: 18
        jsmolnik
        I read somewhere that mulching leaves - instead of allowing them to naturally break down - will kill some butterfly and other beneficial insect cocoons that overwinter in the leaves. In order for my front yard to look more tidy (and part of my back yard) I just rake the leaves under bushes and logs so that they are not noticeable. It seems to work. The leaves will break down during the winter months. I also cover plants up with the leaves to protect them from cold weather (I live in Connecticut) and place burlap around the plants so that it looks “neater” for the neighbors I have who like their tidy looking monocultures. I also have cats in my neighborhood - I am going to try working with our town council on that problem. I think the only way to approach that problem is to start to change the thinking of important decision makers in your town.
    • Tatiana Sanchez
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      PAUMEXICO
      I put in my window image of protection for birds too, less grass and more native plants.
    • lulu
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      nznoys
      birds only signbird sanctuary signkea + kiwi I have been mostly encouraged to learn that without knowing it, I've created a naturescape. I love my garden and love seeing birds enjoy it too, I feel very connected to my ecosystem. BUT!!!!! How do I keep the neighbours' cats out? Well, asking their owners to discourage them doesn't work - they bring the cats with them when they visit, grrrrrrr! They won't put a bell on their cats. They (the neighbours) regularly climb my gates/fences looking for their cats. So, in exasperation, I advertised my back garden as a bird sanctuary. I put up signs (for the neighbours, not the cats) and made cut-outs of birds (including some native to my home country, New Zealand) and hope the neighbours at least will get the message. I also hope the big wooden owls and the kea will scare the cats, not the birds. Can I mention I have a big water pistol too?
      • Jenifer
        Participant
        Chirps: 18
        jsmolnik
        Wow! I love what you have done - so artistic. Keep up the good work. I too have problems - several neighbors own free roaming cats and will not bring them in. So, I am presenting at a town council meeting in a few weeks to propose a leash law for cats. There are several cities in the US that have these laws, but not nearly enough. I hope that I can somehow raise awareness, but I am not sure exactly how to go about doing it. . I don’t know if I will be successful in my home town changing thinking. I am not sure. It seems that some cat owners disregard the need or importance of native wildlife.
    • Christopher
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      goldeagle Kroll
      I recently purchased a new bird feeder pole. It has a cylinder baffle to control squirrels, rats and raccoons. It's quite fun giving an IQ test to squirrels. IMG_20210603_165048602 IMG_20210603_162139644_HDR Sadly, I have to put the feeder approximately six feet from the house. Due to its height. Most of the birds are aware of my window ironically. I can generally tell when a new bird has come to the feeder. The birds that are residents of the property will frequently hover in front of the window. Mostly to annoy the cat.
    • Marguerite
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      Birdsonghouse
      I'm going to find crabapple trees and other native berry shrubs to add to the food sources when the weather turns colder.  A challenge will be developing a year-round water source.  I tried to seed my "meadow" area with native wildflowers that bloom at different times so I really hope that over time, the flowers will bloom - I won't cut off the deadheads! I was surprised to discover that I had so few native plants and shrubs on my property, except for the variety of tall trees, so I have been trying to plant more and more native plants and shrubs.
    • Susan
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      svalett
      The two areas I'd like to improve in our yard are year-round abundance and keeping birds safe. I leave the seed heads on my plants, but we need to provide more overwintering berries and nut sources. We have many screened windows, but a few casement windows have screens on the inside. I have marked vertical stripes with a white paint pen on the largest window, but that was challenging to make attractive. I bought sticker tape for the remaining windows and need to put them on the remaining windows. We also need to re-locate our feeders closer to cover or add cover to the current locations.
    • Karen
      Participant
      Chirps: 17
      VolvoSoccerMom
      Our yard has a fairly good assortment of trees, shrubs and some newly planted native perrenials.  I had never really thought about yard waste and brush piles though.  I am thinking of creating corners of brush piles where it can be tucked away but still provide resources (we live in an area of  "perfect lawns").  I have been slowly getting rid of our front lawn, initially with some raised bed planters, and now am working on a perrenial garden so I will definitely try to incorporate more tall grasses, shrubs, ground cover, etc.
    • Monica
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      mmsf0315
      When considering trees and shrubs, I focused on bloom time for the pollinators.    I gave minimal consideration as to when the fruits, berries, and nuts would be available.    I will be revisiting this soon to ensure seasonal availability and tweak if necessary.   I also will be revisiting vertical diversity.   I have different layers but they are mainly scattered throughout the yard.  I will work on incorporating different heights within the same bed or in close proximity.   Year round water source is a perennial problem.   Finally, my mindset is getting better regarding "messiness".   So that is a plus for me.  As for the neighbors, I hope to plant some shrubs/thickets to camouflage the garden behind the barn (although they say they enjoy watching the birds).
    • Janet
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      chops99
      The addition of a constant water source is my challenge.  I would love a natural looking source that I can use all year, not just my simple bird bath.  I am starting on my "messy" yard, so have lots to think about.  I think patience is a key to allow the plants to fill in naturally and not over plant all at once.  So much to think about.
    • LAURA
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      cleozbirdz
      I definitely have seed-bearing plants (coneflowers, sunflowers, buttonbush, grasses), some fruit-bearing plants (serviceberry, crabapple, viburnum), and some nectar plants (columbine, cardinal flower), but I never thought to look at the seasonality of food supply. Does anyone know of a website where you can determine what time of year, for example, different berries might ripen?
    • Martin
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      mjroncetti
      I had never given any conscience thought to "vertical" diversity until this lesson!  I was aware of it of course by walking though woods and other natural areas but as to landscaping my yard up and down to promote biodiversity would have been done accidentally.  As with many 30+ year old city neighbourhoods, lot size can impose landscaping limits.  I live in a duplex and my "half" of the lot is ~30' x 100'. Fortunately for me, one of my immediate neighbours has a large lilac bush following our shared fence which is quite full.  My other neighbour has mostly lawn but has landscaped the boarders of her yard with Easter White Cedars, a Flowering Crab Apple and several flowering plants.  My third "neighbour is a K-8 school where the school board has a mix of shrubs and trees along the boarder between the parking area and my yard. As to my vertical landscaping, I have some lawn in both my front and back yards.  The front yard has a couple flowerbeds, a small shrub line and a 20+ year old Norway(?) Maple that is quite full and ~35' tall.  Earlier this spring, I dugout and replaced a small circular flowerbed around the truck of the maple where I transplanted some hostas species and a couple of plants from the mint family.  My back yard has several raised beds where four raised beds where I grown strawberries and various vegetables for our consumption.  In amongst the vegetables are marigolds and borage.  The other beds I have planted flowers to primarily attract wildlife.  As I have already mentioned my small pond in early discussion boards, I will add that I have directed any overflow from the pond into a bog/peat garden where I have iris species growing.  The Pin Cherry is providing about a 25' vertical height and the pergola over my vegetable beds also provides some vertical habitat and I do have some messy areas in my back yard which are not too large (and yet still bother my wife...;)).
    • Barbara
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      bnjrenz
      I prefer to use leaf litter as mulch in my yard. It’s free! Since I have a natural area on two sides of my yard it’s easy to leave fallen limbs and brush piles there. I am experiencing some bird strikes in the spring so I need to work on that.
Viewing 18 reply threads