Posts Tagged ‘wild bird seed’

Caring for the Birds

I’ve talked here a bit about the fact that this is a Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary as registered with the WA State Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. It’s something taken seriously here. This is a picture of my partner Louie feeding the birds, something he does at least twice every single day and sometimes more. He uses a Wild Bird Seed Mix which he’s putting into the feeder in this picture tho you can’t see the feeder. Next to him on his left is a High Energy Suet mix we put out in the cold times of the year and sometimes other times. We have feeders in the front and in the back as well and also have a Hummingbird feeder that even now has hummers out seeking its sweet juices.

We have a large assortment of birds here. Some of them we know of are the BlackCap and Chestnut Backed Chickadees, the Northern Flickers, Bluejays and  Stellar’s Jays, Rufous Hummers and other kinds I don’t know the names of, Finches including a  golden colored one, American Robins, Downe Woodpeckers, Starlings, Red Breasted Nuthatchs, Bushtits, Song Sparrows, Wrens and of course the Pigeons, Crows and Seagulls.

We may have others as well but I’m not a bird person so I don’t know the species of birds as well as the plants. We sometimes are visited by a Northern Harrier Hawk as well and we have pictures of it sitting in this apple tree just waiting for its next meal. We don’t begrudge it of course. It has to eat too and a pigeon or two now and then is a small price to pay for seeing such a magnificent bird. We also glimpse Bald Eagles overhead on many occasions but none have ever graced the garden and I doubt they will as we have no tall trees for them to sit in.

In addition to feeding the birds with feeders we feed them with plants too. I have so many bird and insect friendly plants I’ll mention only a few. There’s the Bee Balm of course that the Hummers love and so do the bees of all sorts. The Oregon Grape with it’s blue berries on the plants now and the Mahonia Charity which is blooming now in November with its bright yellow flowers and following blue berries are both favorites. The Choke Cherry is covered with fruit now and so is the Huckleberry. The Nandinas have bright red fruit that draws some birds as do the Pines with their cones. The Wintergreen and Salal have berries that they love as does the Manzanita uva ursi or BearBerry. It seems many of the Ericaceous plants are bird and insect friendly. Of course the Queen Anne Cherries overhead and the Italian Plum are favorites when they come into fruit and we don’t even get many cherries due to the crows and other birds but that’s ok. And the Apple in front is eaten exclusively by the birds as it has insipid fruit we don’t even like to make sauce of.

And besides food there is the issue of cover and forage for them to hang out in and be safe from predators like the hawk. There are many plants here that fill that role, principally the conifers and the bushy large shrubs that line the back of the property and the large front hedge of Arborvitae.  The side hedge of mixed deciduous plants is always full of little birds calling and tweeting and making a delightful chorus of sound and rustling noises. It’s so wonderful to walk out in the yard and hear them at their play and work getting seeds and berries to eat and singing to one another. And even the dwarf plants I’ve put around here and there are sources of cover for the birds to hide in and stay low to the ground where they’re safe.

We also have water easily available to them and you can just see the birdbath in this picture next to Louie. We try to keep it full at all times tho of course now the rains do that. In the back yard we have a large fountain that proves a wonderful place for the birds to clean themselves and especially when it’s running they love to play in the water and get clean and make a mess of the bowl but who cares? It’s some work to keep it clean but it’s worth it as are the other aspects of having a bird sanctuary. The birds also love to play in the water when I water the garden, especially the Hummers who dance around in the spray and seem enthralled with the water as it falls and tumbles to the earth.

We also have squirrels of course and an occasional raccoon, and the feral cats who keep the rat population down quite well. We’re grateful for them but they don’t let us get close tho we sometimes give them some tuna to show our appreciation for their essential work. We don’t have a dog tho Louie would like to have a couple and someday when we don’t travel as much as we do now perhaps we’ll have some. I have my trepidations but I know dogs can be a fine addition to a garden and home if they’re not digging up my favorite plants which they certainly won’t be doing. Animals are a nice part of all this and I love even the silly antics of the squirrels as they eat the bird food and play around with each other.

Plants and Birds are such a natural combination we couldn’t imagine living without the two together. We’ve made a big point of welcoming them to our garden and it’s so worth it to be able to enjoy their beauty and hear their songs I can’t envision a garden without them. I encourage anyone who loves birds to consider getting a bird feeder or two and setting them up in your garden, and to try to find plants that have fruits and berries and nuts and seeds that birds can forage and live on in your garden so that they’ll stay around all year. We have many transitory birds and see different ones at different times of the year of course but there are always birds in our yard. It takes work to be sure but it wouldn’t be complete without them. Go for it. You’ll find it so rewarding I’m sure you’ll be happy you did. And so will the birds.

Happy Birding,

Steve

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