|Posted by Bonnie Helander on July 24, 2013 at 6:20 PM|
Is a garden really a garden without birds? I have always been captivated by the sounds, movement, color and fun that birds bring to our landscapes. Most gardeners love wildlife (except maybe deer, mosquitoes and ticks) and want to attract a variety of birds to their backyards.
Adding plants to your garden with fruit, nuts and berries will ensure you’ll enjoy many varieties of birds. I’ve added Leatherleaf mahonia, several different hollies and viburnum. I understand that birds also like the berries of poison ivy. Yikes! I draw the line at leaving poison ivy for the birds since I only have to look at it to break out in a rash!
Some bird-attracting perennials include red Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), garden phlox (Phlox paniculata), New England American aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae), sunflower (Helianthus annuus) and purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea).
Shrubs that birds will love include leatherleaf mahonia (Mahonia bealei), American beautyberry (Callicarpa Americana), viburnum (Viburnum species), and wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera).
Our native American beautyberry has vivid purple berries in the fall that are bird magnets!
And don’t forget trees for birds to eat the berries, hide in the foliage and build their nests. Add a flowering dogwood (Cornus florida or Cornus kousa), dwarf Southern magnolia (Magnolia ‘Little Gem’ ), Yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria), or Carolina cherry laurel (Prunus caroliniana).
In addition to planting bird-friendly plants, add a bird feeder or two and you will have the pleasure of watching a variety of birds flock to your feeders. To maximize my viewing enjoyment, I placed a bird feeder where I can see it easily from the house. I also purchased a decent pair of binoculars and a good bird book that shows photos and gives descriptions of birds in my area. Slowly but surely I am learning to identify many of the birds that like to call my garden home.
Birdhouses and bird baths placed throughout your garden not only provide a functional service for birds but are great focal points. I have one large wooden birdhouse on a post that many birds have nested in and I have enjoyed viewing for almost 20 years. I can see this birdhouse from three different windows in my home and it provides great winter interest. It has almost fallen apart several times and my husband has often rebuilt and repainted it. Now it sports a cheerful color combination of salmon, yellow and purple! My ornamental pond attracts lots of birds. I like to see them washing and fluffing their feathers in shallow spots.
My birdhouse is a colorful focal point in my garden and many birds have set up house in it.
I am also cutting down on the use of pesticides to keep my feathered friends happy. What’s a little black spot on leaves in exchange for healthy birds in the garden!
If you love birds, why not get certified as a Wildlife Habitat through the National Wildlife Federation? If you can provide food, shelter, water and a place for birds to raise their young, you qualify and are making a difference in keeping birds safe and healthy.