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Seasonal Tip

Attracting Birds to Your Garden
July 09, 2010

It seems that birds are found everywhere, from parks and woodlands to cities and even shopping centers. They probably even pass through your yard or garden... but do they stay? If not, it may be because your yard doesn't provide them with a consistent, yet varied, food supply.

Creating a garden or landscape that welcomes songbirds is a relatively simple task. It consists of supplying them with three basic requirements for survival: food, cover, and water. To birds and butterflies, close-cropped lawns, sheared shrubs, pesticide residues, and deadheaded flowers mean no place to rest, nowhere to hide and no food to eat. We're not suggesting you let your yard overtake your house, but you get the idea.

Another way to attract birds is to plant the foods that they can't resist. Evergreens offer a good source of berries and seed-filled cones. They also provide year-round shelter, protection and breeding sites. White pines, Arborvitae, Spruce, Junipers, Cedars, and Hollies provide essential winter protection as well as food. Plants native to our region are the best choices for native birds. Native fruits and berries are nutritious, and they ripen on a schedule that coincides with nesting and migration times.

Some berry-rich plants for your garden might include Viburnum, Winterberry, Rugosa roses, Chokeberry, Serviceberry, Hollies, Blueberries, Elderberries, Cotoneaster, Bayberry, and Dogwoods. Flowers are also excellent sources of nectar and seeds for songbirds. Some of their favorites include Sunflowers, Coneflowers, Black-eyed Susans, Zinnias, Cosmos, Asters, Delphinium, Bee Balm, Agastache, and Liatris. By not deadheading flowers with seeds, the birds will also have an extended food source into the winter.

Growing a garden that welcomes songbirds provides people with benefits as well, including insect control, less maintenance and increased property value. Over the years, trees and shrubs will grow larger, bear more fruit, and provide more opportunity for underplanting. Pretty soon, all the birds will be talking.

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