Last week, I wrote about birdfeeding, specifically Project FeederWatch. Since then, I’ve run across two very good pamphlets with some useful tips about protecting birds where you live and enjoying birds on your property. I thought it would be good to share some tips from the National Audubon Society, and Missouri Department of Conservation.
Attracting birds and other wildlife to your yard is the perfect opportunity view wildlife up close and personal. I can spend hours in front of the window watching the birds, noticing their colors, behaviors and antics.
Here are some great tips to get you started:
• Birdfeeding in the winter is most desirable, as birds’ other food sources are gone. The birds become accustomed to visiting your feeders at specific times. You will actually notice individual differences between some of your birds and be able to note them when they visit.
• Create, or protect, water sources in your yard. I’ve added a small heater to my bird water dish in the past, but last year I wanted something more durable. It seems like the foil-wrapped type only last one season. So, I invested in a heated dog bowl. It made all the difference in the world. I put in a large rock, so that small birds could sit on it to reach the water.
• Place birdhouses around your yard. Each bird species has its own nesting requirements. You’re not going to attract many bluebirds if you place a box every six feet. Pay attention to the recommendations for placement and follow them. Remember, some birds will only nest in clean boxes. Be sure to clean them out each February; this also helps rid the box of overwintering insects.
• Let your yard get a little messy. Remember birds and other wildlife, need habitats to live. They can’t build nests in clean, manicured yards. Old snags, brush piles, even hand-laid rock walls provide shelter and nesting opportunities.
• Use silhouettes. I can tell you from living in a house with many large windows, birds get confused, see reflections, or see the outdoors through your windows to the other side. This results in many birds getting killed by flying into windows. Place decals, window clings, even Post-It sticking notes, on your windows two to four inches apart to deter birds. Close your blinds at night and turn off lights you’re not using them. Some birds use constellations for migration, and light pollution interferes with their natural abilities.
• Keep cats indoors.
• Plant natives. Very few things can improve your yard and gardens, as well as just switching to native plants. Native plants’ long roots absorb more rain runoff. Native flowers have the shape and nectar most preferred by birds and pollinators. Best of all, native species require less maintenance.
• Reduce pesticide and herbicide use. Remember, many birds eat insects. So, once you begin making your yard an attractive haven, the birds will take care of the insect problems for you. Pesticides and herbicides are not only dangerous for birds, but also to our many varieties of desirable pollinating insects.
Lynn Youngblood is the executive director of the Blue River Watershed Association in Kansas City. You can reach Lynn at TheGreenSpace@sbcglobal.net, or follow her on Instagram at TheGreenSpaceKC.