My garden is going to the birds, and I’m happy about that.
I admit I’m a creature of habit. I have settled into a routine over the years and part of that routine involves sitting on my covered patio sipping a ‘cup of Joe’ in the morning before I start working my ever-growing ‘to-do’ list. As my mind and body wake up, I observe the garden. Lately, I’ve become aware not only of the symphony of bird calls, but also of the birds’ routines, likes and dislikes. Hopefully, some of these observations will help you let your garden ‘go to the birds,’ if that’s to your liking.
For one, I’ve learned that some birds like bird houses, while others don’t. And of course the size of the hole dictates the birds that will use it. At this point I have 3 birdhouses on my property. One has been mounted on the shed for years. Another bird house was made by a friend’s daughter. The fluorescent paint is wearing off at this point, and honestly I’m not sure what bird is using this one. It’s situated pretty far back in the woods, so I can’t see it well from my perch on the patio.
|My fluorescent treasure – hand made by a young girl
The bird house I just hung up this year was from my parents’ house is Illinois. I particularly like that it is adorned with a forest green roof made from the original shingles of my childhood home. I suspect my dad, who at one point wanted to be a carpenter, made it himself. I have delighted in watching the chickadees make their nest there.
|The chickadee is at home in my garden
I’m excited to report that I have 5 more bird houses ready to go, including some just made by my carpenter and friend Terry, who graciously agreed to make bird houses with the license plates from my mom’s car as roofing material. I just couldn’t bear to throw out the license plates after my mother passed away, and now they have been re-purposed! I’ll be ready for the chickadees, bluebirds and other ‘cavity nesters.’
|A great way to re-purpose license plates
Now, I want to be clear that I’m not an expert birder. I’m sure that will be obvious to those readers who are. You are probably already shaking your head at me, shaming me for encouraging the use of more than 2 bird houses per acre of property, which is apparently the current guideline. You might also be disappointed that the majority of my birdhouses have perches, which apparently birds don’t need or want. And I bet I sent you over the edge when I shared my joy about the creation of the license-plate bird houses, because bright colors are a deterrent as they attract predators. And I know I am supposed to be disgusted by house wrens and sparrows using the bird houses. Oh well. Forgive me. As with plant collecting, I just can’t help myself. Besides, the birds don’t seem to mind living in close proximity in a diverse eco-system. They are kindly ignoring all my faux pas.
As for the birds that prefer nesting in shrubs and trees, I have noticed that my 25 foot tall ‘Green Giant’ hedge provides condominium-like housing for a variety of birds including robins, cardinals and catbirds. I continually see birds flying in and out of the lacy, evergreen foliage. They seem to enjoy raiding my compost pile for nesting material and then disappearing in the hedge where I’m confident they are busily decorating their condos. The robins also really like the Viburnum and holly in front of my house, which are in protected spots.
|A catbird perched on an Angelica in front of the Thuja ‘Green Giant’ hedge
Probably the biggest draw for the birds on my property isn’t the variety of housing available, but the accessibility to water. I have a bird bath as well as a water feature and the birds seem to use both regularly. I have created a country club environment of sorts I think, where birds gather together. I have seen 7 birds in the water feature at one time, so they must really like it! There is something so entertaining about watching birds take baths. The apparent trepidation before they step into the cool water. The glee of splashing around time and time again once they have taken the plunge. The final preening of feathers that they do in the nearby trees like Amelanchier ‘Autumn Brilliance’, Cornus kousa, Stewartia japonica, Cercis canadensis and more.
|The bird bath in my garden
|My new water feature
As I said earlier, I’m happy my garden is going to the birds. I love watching them and communing with nature in this way as part of my morning meditation and wake up routine. And I look forward to hearing how you’ve attracted birds to your garden. Now it’s time for me to take flight – my coffee cup is empty and that to-do list is waiting!