Gardening for Birds Part 2

We've had some well needed rain this past week, though it makes it a bit difficult to get chores done outside.

We're past the last frost date for my area so now I can get some planting done.

I love to play in the dirt.

Mr. robin sits close by waiting for me to move elsewhere so he can gulp down the freshly dug earthworms.

I'll through a couple his way from time to time.

It's fun to see how many he can hold in his bill when he is bringing them back to feed the hatchlings.

I have never seen as many white crowned sparrows. This year they are everywhere in the yard.

Hummers have arrived so that is always a treat to see.

Yolanda had to point out a Male cardinal at one of the feeders.

One of the feeding stations is near her window, she enjoys the activity.


A couple of weeks ago we took a walk through a nice wooded park.

Boy are things changing under the tree canopy.

Flowers have come and gone while others are just starting to bloom.

The ground is turning into several shades of green peppered with soft hues of pinks and blues.

Bright yellows can be spotted in the distance.

Some of the small trees and shrubbery are showing signs of small fruits while others are just beginning to show signs of buds.

Birds are singing away.

Activity is everywhere, nest builders and parents feeding the early batch of young.

We need to keep our eyes and ears open to really appreciate our surroundings.

As a youngster, I was a frequent visitor to the many local wooded areas where I grew up.

A child's mind opens up and runs wild with imagination. I wasn't afraid, the family German shepherd was always with me :)


Unless you live in a wooded and meadow area already, like me, you will need to lend a helping hand.

Yet, with some time and patience we can make our own little habitat.

What I would like for you to do, is study your area for plants, habitats, and birds.

Get to know what native and non native plants grow in your area.

By learning this, you will know what is zone hardy and you wont be spending time and money on a lost cause.

Talk to a local nurseryman who is familiar with your area.

Get your soil tested if necessary to make sure it is sweet enough or acid for certain varieties of shrubs and trees.

Here where I live in Michigan, I am always asked "will this grow here"?

Again, learn the birds of your area.

What kind of birds do you want to attract?

Wouldn't it be great to have more visitors or maybe a migrator that spends the summer with you?

Hey, it does happen.

Do you have a large yard?

What if it's a small city lot?

Are there several trees or maybe just one lonely shade tree?

Whatever the case, it can work for you.

Here is a list of bird attracting small trees and shrubs.

Attracting Birds: Shrubs

Start building under your canopy with small trees and shrubs that grow in your area.

Find ones that have fruit to attract your birds.

Dogwood (Cornus florida), Redbud (Cercis canidensis), Canadian hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) are a sample of small trees that do well under natural canopies.

Again, check with a local nursery.



You've done some homework.

You have an idea on what you would like in your yard

You can't wait to start building your habitat.


Did you draw everything out on paper?

Include names of shrubs and trees, how big they will get.

Did you plan on high and lows in the plantings?

How about leaving an opening or two like we noticed on our walk.

Leave room for some flowers and maybe a bit of ground cover.

Don't over do it on your budget on your body.

I know how easy and tempting it can be.

Make it a family affair.

Get the kids and grand kids involved.

What better way to get young people to discover the wonders of nature.

A backyard habitat helps to stimulate and develop a lifelong interest in wildlife and conservation.

Don't spend your time being a slave to your new habitat, sit back and enjoy it as a work in progress.


There are a few basics involved when landscaping for birds.

Food - Every bird species has food requirements that may change thoughthe seasons.

Learn the food habits of the birds you wish to attract, then plant the appropriate flowers, shrubs and trees for your area.

Diversity - Plan your landscape to include a variety of plants. Go native as much as possible.

Shelter - Consider such factors as prevailing winds (snow and rain storms)when arranging your habitat.

Be sure it offers shelter from predators as well.leave that dead tree standing if it isn't a risk of causing damage.

Protection - When you are choosing placement of your feeders and nest boxes, consider their accessibility for predators. Are they located for you to easily fill and monitor?

How close are feeders to picture windows that may cause a crash.

Use caution in your use of herbicides and pesticides.

Four Seasons - Try to plant to offer year round benefits. Include both evergreen and deciduous trees and shrubs.

Combine summer and fall fruiting plants and those that hold fruit well into winter to provide year-round food sources.

Zone hardy and soils - Consult a map or local agency on your hardiness zone.

Get you soil tested if necessary to find what will grow and grow healthy for you.

Weed and water - It is important to get your new plants off to a happy healthy start.

Watering and a bit of food is very important for the first year to help build a deep and strong root system.

Establishing a healthy root system is needed to help survive the colds of winter and the lean times ahead.

Keep on top of the moisture stealing weeds.

It's not a chore if you pluck a weed or two every time you are watering or visiting your new habitat.

I can see the sweat on your brow and dirt under your nails already : )

Make sure it's a fun sweat though.

I'll be checking on you real soon.

As always, have a blessed week my friend


Ronald Patterson is an avid backyard birder, going back 40plus years. Ron and his wife Karen owned a wildbird specialty store through much of the 90's and through 2001. Ron is also a Michigan Certified Nurseryman. This aids in giving expert advice on birds and what to plant to attract wildbirds to your yard.

Ron's weekly news letter can be found at:

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