In the Garden
In the Garden Home
Fertilizing your roses: A step-by-step guide
Planting Roses: A How to Guide
Pruning your roses: why, how and when
Mulching: benefits and how tos
Selecting the Right Rose
Summer Rose Care Tips
Late Summer Roses
Gifts from Your Rose Garden
Christmas Treats for the Birds
Perennial Companions for Roses
Birds: Our beautiful garden allies
Getting Your Roses Ready
Eat Your Roses! Rose Recipes
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Birds: Beautiful Garden Allies
who spends time out in their garden becomes familiar with the all
the wild things that are also attracted to the garden. While some
of these critters may not be very welcome, we certainly want to
have birds in our gardens.
There's nothing quite like walking through the garden early in
the morning and listening to all the birds calling -- especially
during the spring and early summer when they're busy attracting
mates, establishing territories and raising families.
Birds are attracted to gardens because they usually have what
birds need: food, water and shelter. Trees and shrubs provide birds
with shelter and places to raise their young. They can also provide
food, from berries to seeds. And all those garden beds you tend
to so carefully attract bugs, which in turn attracts birds who eat
the bugs. Starting to make the connection on how birds are our gardening
probably heard about how Purple Martins eat hundreds of mosquitoes
each day. Well, most garden-visiting birds also eat bugs or feed
them to their young during the summer. Have you ever watched a bird
feed its young? The parent flies up to the nest, and instantly there
are up to 5 open-mouthed, peeping, very hungry youngsters to feed.
Usually there's only enough food for one or two youngsters, so the
parent has to quickly dash off and get more food. And the menu usually
consists of bugs gathered from your garden.
Some birds will raise more than one clutch of babies each summer.
I've watched bluebirds and wrens successfully raise four consecutive
batches of kids in one summer! That means lots of hungry mouths
to fill with bugs from my garden.
So what do you do to attract birds to your garden? As mentioned
above, birds need three things: food, water and shelter.
An easy way to lure in birds initially is with bird feeders. Black
oil sunflower seeds and thistles are what I feed to birds in my
yard. This attracts finches, cardinals, nuthatches, chickadees,
bluejays, rose breasted grosbeaks, common redpolls, song sparrows,
chippings sparrows and even an indigo bunting. You can also lure
them in with fruit-bearing shrubs and trees, including: roses (of
course), viburnum, dogwood, honeysuckle, crabapple. Once you've
attracted birds to your yard with seeds, they'll start hunting in
your gardens for bugs, especially when they have youngsters to feed.
Birds will eat lots of bugs -- both good and bad bugs -- that
have been attracted to the annuals, perennials and shrubs in our
gardens. Birds will "patrol" your garden for everything from earthworms
to the nasty leaf-eating insects. Any insect that moves and is edible
is fair game for birds.
Water. Birds need water, both for drinking and
bathing to keep their feathers in good condition. A simple birdbath
will go far in providing that all essential key to life -- water.
But, remember to clean it out daily. If you wouldn't drink the water
in the birdbath, then maybe your birds shouldn't either.
The trees and shrubs in your garden provide safe areas for birds
to: survey your yard for food and predators; roost in at night;
and seek shelter from bad weather. Conifers really give some of
the best shelter and lots of nesting spots for birds. But, a mixture
of trees and shrubs is best for attracting birds. Placing bird houses
or nesting platforms in your yard can also help attract birds by
providing safe places for them to raise their young (there's a wren
house attached to the post in the photo to the right). Be sure to
watch out for house sparrows that can invade many nest boxes and
often times kill other birds, such as chickadees and bluebirds.
Remove their nests (they are usually very messy) to discourage them
from sticking around your yard.
There are lots of good sources for learning about birds, including
many Web sites. Here are some of our favorites: