Attracting Birds to your Landscape

 

Around our homes, few things will often be as interesting and lively as birds. They brighten up the silent days of winter and fill our springtime gardens and landscape with music. How can we make our yards a place for them to gather, and how can we repay them for giving us such enjoyment? We can provide some of the things they need to survive and desire for security. Having a bird-friendly yard has never been more importantówith every passing year suitable habitat for birds is ever shorter in supply. Attracting birds is also great way to introduce youíre children or grandchildren to natureóit's something the whole family can share.

Of the many reasons to attract birds into our landscapes, the effect it has on our mood and emotions may be the most precious. These charming airborne creatures can make our landscapes much more friendly. For many people, making their home environment come alive with warmth and beauty is extremely important. Beyond the pleasantness of having a landscape frequented by wildlife, birds are a critical part of our ecosystem. Without birds, insects would overrun our gardens, landscapes and farms.

 

Because we live in a desert, many residents are unaware that having an actual bird habitat of their own is actually possible. Many birds are routinely found around our valley and many others actually migrate though.

 

Just a few of the many bird varieties to be found in Southern Nevada

 

Heron

 

 

 

 

Roadrunner

 

Owls

Woodpecker

So, just what kinds of birds are there in the area that we could possibly attract? Well, believe it or not there are many varieties of birds that frequent our valley. Visit

www.nevadagardens.com/Pages/birdlist200412.pdf for a listing of birds found in the Las Vegas Wash (courtesy the Red Rock Audubon Society), and youíll see what a good opportunity there is here for anyone that cares to make the effort.

 

For the professional landscaper; being able to help a client accomplish a landscape with a wonderful variety and frequent presence of birds can be the difference between getting new business or finding that the competition has done so. Youíll want to do your homework in order to make sure that you not only attract the type of birds that your client wants, but that the landscape is not too difficult to maintain, and that your client understands what they will need to do routinely in order to keep their bird habitat populated and pleasing.

 

For a homeowner; being ultimately successful and happy with your project means first of all developing a strategy and plan that attracts the varieties desired and keeps maintenance and pests to a minimum. Then looking at that plan and knowing inside it is something you want to do.

 

A good plan can garner a nice bird population without being overwhelming. You can even choose to have a small oasis that is bird friendly, while the balance of your landscape is an austere xeriscape. Or, you can build your habitat phase by phase and ultimately have it consume most all of your landscape. Itís your choice, but there will be a few things that, no matter what size or scope you may want, will need to be done. Planning is critical in the process of creating a bird friendly landscape. This plan necessarily begins by choosing with bird species you hope to entice. Maybe youíll also want to list some species you donít care for, this can help a lot in a proper choice of food and feeder types.

 

After knowing the varieties you want to attract, the next important decision is food and feeder selection. An example; Pigeons do not have much interest in hanging feeders designed for smaller birds in order to find food. While food or seed placed onto ground feeders will be easy for them to access.

 

Birds need food, water, shelter, and believe itÖ privacy! If you want a long term gathering of birds on your property, youíll want to give them places to nest and start a family. Birds greatly appreciate having plenty of areas to shelter them from visibility by humans and general exposure to potential predators. Here is where landscaping is critical. Groundcover that they can hide under as well as shrubs and trees that keep them from being easily preyed upon are vital in helping them to feel at home.

 

In visiting a local wildlife habitat it was soon apparent that there were many birds in the yard, yet until I kept still long enough or got out of their sight, they choose to remain hidden in the surrounding flora and invisible to me. Once my presence was no longer an issue for them, they frenzied about getting food and water, bathing and playing. Itís a bit difficult to express the wonderful feeling of being surrounded by such a gathering of happy wildlife.

 

Not too many places for a bird to hide here.

A xeriscape with plenty of spots for privacy!

The likelihood that most varieties of birds would choose to nest or frequent a xeriscape yard that provided little landscape privacy is low. However, by providing at least an oasis of plant coverage within your yard, along with the other necessities that birds need, you can have a mini-habitat of your own.

 

The absence of active predators will be vital. So, if you have a cat or two, youíll not be a likely candidate for a bird habitat (though Iím sure there is someone out there who will explain how wrong I am).

 

Getting Started

Knowing your strategy and plan is first. Do you want to dedicate all or part, and then just how much. How much routine care do you want to give? What varieties of birds are your targets? What birds do you not want? After these decisions youíll be selecting Feeder types and quantities as well as food to provide. Youíll want to check out all the beautiful types of birdbaths and creative options for giving your new feathered friends the water they need. If you already have some landscaping that will provide protection and privacy for birds, or if you currently have nothing in this area, you will want to consider what landscaping you need to add to arrive at you ultimate habitat goal. Make sure all these ideas are included in your plan, so that you donít wind up undoing things that you begin to install when you find they donít mesh with what you need later.

 

Finally, after you have you new habitat established (maybe not yet finished), youíll need to be patient. It takes time for the local avian population to discover your landscape and even more time to feel secure in making it their own. To keep it beautiful will take routine clean up, especially after you begin to garner a fair sized group of routine visitors. Proper pruning, when necessary is important. Your shrubbery is now home for these little guys and you need to be careful not to over-prune. Keep your feeders and birdbaths well stocked and clean. These are all in themselves simple chores that can be very pleasant and actually reduce stress. Having a garden or landscape filled with life is something that adds not only to the value of your home, but to the neighborhood surrounding it.

 

Enjoy!

 

Frank Rauscher