Calhoun Times

Attracting birds to the landscape

- For more informatio­n, contact UGA Extension-Gordon County at 706-629-8685 or email Extension Agent Greg Bowman at

One online resource stated that in 2019, there were approximat­ely 12.82 million participan­ts in birdwatchi­ng in the United States.

In Northwest Georgia, most know about the Berry College eagle cams where you can watch the nesting bald eagles from the comfort of your phone or computer.

I remember being at Berry College to watch a basketball game and was amazed by the number of people that would come to take photos and observe the eagles that nest just outside the gym. Some people put great effort, time and money into birdwatchi­ng which may include traveling great distances.

Others may not can go to that extreme, but they can establish a great bird habitat on their property and conduct birdwatchi­ng from home. Today, I will be sharing informatio­n from a UGA publicatio­n by Bob Westerfiel­d, UGA Extension Horticultu­rist, that can help you attract more birds to the landscape.

Why would anyone want to attract birds to the landscape? I think there can be a variety of reasons.

First, birds can add diversity to the property. It can be fun to see and note the different bird species dwelling in the landscape. It can be a fun activity for the entire family also while teaching youth about nature.

Plus, taking time to birdwatch can be an activity to slow our busy lives down a bit. The key to attracting and keeping birds in the landscape is tied to providing three main things: food, shelter/nesting and water. Our informatio­n states that by providing any or all of these three essential elements, you can enjoy the peaceful pastime of watching more birds on your property.

For starters, many ornamental plants can aid in more than one habitat requiremen­t. The multi-stem plants that can form a dense canopy can provide a proper nesting area also cover. Note that as much as possible, the trees and shrubs on the property should provide a year-round food option for the birds.

This means that native trees and shrubs will help provide fruits and berries for your bird species. If you have times of the year where trees and shrubs are not providing food options for the bird species, you can go with commercial bird seed mixes. Keep in mind that some birds will consume a wide variety of seeds while other birds will only prefer one or two seed types. Our informatio­n states that sunflower seeds, proso millet seeds and peanut kernels are appealing to the great majority of bird types.

The birds on your property will need cover or shelter options if you plan on them staying a long time. Cover or shelter will protect them not only from predators, but from the sun, heat, wind and rain. Birds prefer multi-stem plants that form a dense canopy.

The dense canopy can also aid in providing a nesting area. You need to have a proper mix of deciduous and evergreen plants. In fact, it is suggested to have at least 25% of the trees and shrubs in the landscape to be evergreens.

You will need to provide a fresh water source to help keep bird population­s for a long time on the property. It is recommende­d that the water source should be shallow so no more than 2 to 3 inches deep.

The water should also be replaced on a regular basis. A shallow fountain to keep the running is said to be ideal. One key is to have the water source in the middle of an open area and also elevated. Having the water source in and open area will help birds stay on the lookout for predators.

Birds will need water 365 days a year so provide water even in the winter months. I think having the water source in an open area will also help the birdwatche­r see all of the bird species on the property. Some of my best memories of my grandparen­ts would be tied to going to their home for holiday gatherings. Just outside the dining room area windows would be their bird feeders and bird bath area.

You could sit for hours and watch the various birds such as cardinals that called their landscape home. There is a recommende­d list of trees and shrubs that can be an aid in attracting birds to your landscape. There are examples such as the American Beautyberr­y to dogwood to red cedar and even the Wax myrtle.

I can provide this list on request. The trees and shrubs are described by if they provide cover and food, the fruiting time of year for that option, if the tree or shrub is deciduous or evergreen and size of that landscape item. Our informatio­n suggests to conduct an inventory of your trees and shrubs. From the list, you can determine your mix of evergreen and deciduous trees, look at the time of fruiting and know when you will not have a native food supply.

You can also know if you already have adequate cover and nesting options. From your inventory, you can make decisions on adding selected trees and shrubs to the landscape to increase your bird population.

 ?? ?? Bowman

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