At­tract­ing Birds to Your Land­scape

Calhoun Times - - FRONT PAGE -

watch­ing all of the red birds out­side the fam­ily din­ing room win­dow at my grand­par­ent’s home. It seemed those birds would know they were putting on a show at the bird­baths and bird feed­ers.

Per­haps, you would like to make your land­scape more invit­ing to birds. I will be shar­ing in­for­ma­tion from a UGA pub­li­ca­tion re­vised by Bob Wester­field on this topic. When I re­tire, the county agent may take up bird watch­ing as a hobby. Who knows, I may win the top award for see­ing the most birds in a cal­en­dar year.

One of the key tips in at­tract­ing birds to your land­scape or back­yard is based on pro­vid­ing three es­sen­tial in­gre­di­ents. Those are food, shel­ter/ nest­ing ar­eas and wa­ter. By pro­vid­ing any or all of these in­gre­di­ents, you can in­crease your chances of great bird watch­ing time on your prop­erty. By do­ing this, you are mak­ing your land­scape a more proper bird habi­tat.

Wester­field states that or­na­men­tal trees and shrubs can give the cover or shel­ter that birds need plus pro­vid­ing nest­ing ar­eas. Keep in mind that as much as pos­si­ble, the trees and shrubs should pro­vide a year round food source. If you can in­cor­po­rate na­tive trees and shrubs, you should be able to pro­vide a good amount of fruits and berries that na­tive birds will en­joy and use.

If your or­na­men­tals are not go­ing to pro­vide a food source at cer­tain times, you can off­set with com­mer­cial bird­seed. Birds can be like peo­ple. Some birds will eat a va­ri­ety of things while oth­ers only like cer­tain items. Wester­field adds that the ma­jor­ity of birds will like sun­flower seeds, proso mil­let seeds and peanut ker­nels.

Do not un­der­es­ti­mate the need for cover espe­cially if bird are go­ing to be long­time res­i­dents on the prop­erty. Cover can pro­tect birds from preda­tory an­i­mals and also from in­clement weather. Birds like mul­ti­stem plants that will make a thick canopy. These dense canopy ar­eas will make nice nest­ing ar­eas too. The cover you pro­vide needs to be a mix of de­cid­u­ous and ev­er­green plants due to birds need­ing year all year long. It is sug­gested that ev­er­green plants in­clude broadleaf va­ri­eties such as holly and conifers. It is also sug­gested that at least 25 per­cent of the trees and shrubs be ever­greens in re­gards to cover.

Just like peo­ple, birds en­joy fresh wa­ter. Fresh wa­ter is nec­es­sary to keep your bird pop­u­la­tion. Most folks will think about a bird bath in re­gards to a wa­ter source. The main thing is the wa­ter source should be shal­low so no more than 2-3 inches deep. The wa­ter needs to be re­placed reg­u­larly. A shal­low foun­tain is a good idea if pos­si­ble. Keep the wa­ter source in an open area or el­e­vated to help the birds be on the look­out for predators. Yes, your fam­ily cat can be a preda­tor for birds. Help the birds by putting the wa­ter source in a spot that will help them be on the look­out for life threat­en­ing sit­u­a­tions. When the weather gets cold, the birds still need wa­ter, so be pre­pared to of­fer fresh wa­ter even in winter months.

Our in­for­ma­tion can pro­vide a list of trees and shrubs that can help make a bet­ter bird habi­tat. If in­creas­ing the bird pop­u­la­tion is a goal, look at the habi­tat el­e­ment pro­vided by that or­na­men­tal, the fruit­ing sea­son of that tree or shrub, is the item ev­er­green or de­cid­u­ous and at ma­ture size will the or­na­men­tal fit the spot. Wester­field sug­gests to con­duct a land­scape in­ven­tory of your trees and shrubs.

De­ter­mine your mix of ever­greens and de­cid­u­ous trees. Re­mem­ber a goal of 25 per­cent ever­greens in the land­scape. Know the time of fruit­ing so you will know when food sup­ple­men­ta­tion may be needed and make sure you are pro­vid­ing proper cover and nest­ing ar­eas. The more fruit and berries the or­na­men­tals will pro­vide over the long haul will mean less sup­ple­men­tal food sources you have to pur­chase or pro­vide. If the in­ven­tory shows you have gaps or need to im­prove the de­cid­u­ous or ev­er­green mix, use our or­na­men­tal charts to help. Do not for­get to re­al­ize the ma­ture size of an or­na­men­tal and plant in cor­rect spot.

For more in­for­ma­tion, con­tact UGA Ex­ten­sionGor­don County at 706-6298685 or email gbow­man@

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