This Is ‘For the Birds’
Written by: Bill Reichenbach, Certified Arborist WI-0188A
If you enjoy your trees, you are likely and bit of a ‘birder’ as well. Those of us that care for our trees have an interest and appreciation of birds too. Feeding birds is a common hobby shared by millions. There are many things you can do with your landscape to encourage birds to your yard. Moreover, you can create great habitat to the benefit of birds in the process.
- Create a bird border – plant a variety of trees large, medium, and small in a layered multi-level arrangement in three dimensions. Keep in mind correct spacing to allow for the growth and ultimate size of the trees and other plants. Plant shrubs and ground layer plantings under the trees. This can be done at any scale, for properties large or small. Having a planting ‘plan’ is important. Creating a bit of a ‘thicket’ in part of your yard is attractive to birds.
- Plant a diverse selection of trees and shrubs that produce fruit or nuts at various times of the year, summer through fall and into winter. Serviceberries, hackberry, crabapples, and oak trees come to mind. Native trees are always a good choice.
- Plant conifers that provide cover and protection in winter as well as nesting sites. Evergreens come in many sizes to fit most every situation. Birds will welcome many varieties of spruce, pine, juniper and arborvitae.
- Reduce lawn area. Large expanses of open lawn does not attract many birds. Consider island plantings with various trees and shrubs or prairie / meadow plantings with native grasses and wild flowers or your favorite perennial from your mom’s garden.
- Water – providing a water source 1-2” deep will certainly bring more birds to your yard. Do keep the water fresh and the birdbath clean. Dripping or moving water will attract birds even more and can provide a soothing acoustic experience as well.
- Not too tidy – during the growing season many birds feed on insects. Delaying fall clean ups until spring can give beneficial insects over wintering sites. Leaving fallen leaves in the beds create ideal habitat for insects and the birds that feed on them. Leaving perennials like coneflowers up through winter also provides seeds that sustains the birds. If part of your yard can be a little wilder and natural, it will be good for the birds.
Managing your property to encourage birds can create little microhabitats that can bring more life into your yard. Watching the avian drama unfold is rewarding and fun.