Bluebirds are a favorite group of species for many birders that include the Western Bluebird (above), Mountain and Eastern Bluebirds.
As birders, we can make our yards more bird-friendly in a variety of ways that will make our property more attractive to birds, benefiting them during key periods in their annual cycle, nesting season, and seasonal movements. Here we offer a list of simple ways you can make “greener” choices that will generally improve your backyard efforts and attractiveness while reducing your environmental footprint, which will benefit all wildlife over time. For instance, a couple simple suggestions may be to buy bird foods that are grown as locally as possible, and avoid using pesticides and herbicides in your yard.
Other ideas and suggestions include:
* Planting tubular nectar-producing flowers and flowering trees and shrubs to attract hummingbirds, orioles, and other songbirds.
* Adding fruiting trees such as mountain ash and serviceberry to your yard will attract fruit-eating birds like bluebirds, waxwings, robins and other thrushes.
* Planting native prairie grasses may attract a variety of native sparrows, finches, buntings, doves, and quail.
* Emphasize planting native plants on your property whenever possible to provide food, cover, and nesting sites for birds.
* Be aware of what bird foods will attract the birds you wish to share your yard with, and avoid foods that attract birds you would prefer to exclude from your feeding station.
* Provide fresh water for birds daily, preferably at an elevated shallow saucer, bird bath, or water feature. Water attracts the greatest variety of species, including birds that do not normally visit feeding stations.
* Add a nest box or two to your property, for songbirds like wrens, chickadees, bluebirds, titmice, and other small cavity nesting birds.
* Consider adding a big nest box to your yard or a nearby park or refuge – with permission, of course – to provide an artificial large cavity for Wood Ducks, American Kestrels, screech owls, and other larger cavity nesting birds.
* Be aware of the threat of predators to birds you attract to your yard, especially roving cats.
* If you have a cat, please keep it indoors or in an enclosure when it’s outdoors, and suggest the same to cat owners who may permit their cat the freedom of the neighborhood – even if it’s a nice but anonymous message. Every cat counts, considering hundreds of millions of small birds are killed annually by cats.
* Position your bird feeders and bird baths close to your window – less than three feet is suggested – so birds leaving a feeder or bird bath can’t gain enough momentum to harm themselves should they collide with a window. Window strikes are another major cause of hundreds of millions of bird deaths in North America.
* Another option is to use CollidEscape.org products on windows of concern to stop window strikes.
* Join a bird conservation organization, or support one or more financially or by volunteering.
* Become a citizen scientist by monitoring birds in your yard and in the field and recording your sightings with eBird at ebird.org
* Enjoy certified shade-grown coffee and other products that utilize sustainable production practices.
* Recycle paper, cardboard, aluminum, glass, plastic, and wood.
* Choose recycled paper, wood, glass, and plastic products whenever possible.
* Vote for and support sound conservation values that benefit birds.
We all benefit and prosper more as we give these subjects a bit more thought and effort. Yes, our yards and birding practices are tied to many important aspects of daily life and some of the choices we make. It’s another way of looking at the world around you and your interactions with it – with an emphasis on the birds we all appreciate day by day.
The basis for this article is provided on the Bird Studies Canada website at https://www.birdscanada.org/education/tophelp.jsp
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