Building a backyard bird haven
August 17, 2010
Several weeks ago I was visiting a friend in Rockingham County and was surprised to learn that she likes birds. A lot.
This crafty little lady has converted her backyard into a sort of bird haven. I’m sure many people do the same thing, but I wanted to point out a few clever things she’s done in case anyone wants to try it in their yard.
There are two main aspects to examine, although really they’re inter-related – bird houses and bird feeders. Together she has a few dozen of each scattered around her property.
The most obvious presence of these things is in the open area of her backyard, but birds don’t always want to come out in the open, so she’s also established some houses and feeders in the woods around her yard.
In order to encourage nesting, a small bag of lint hangs from a tree limb in her yard. Nothing says “welcome home” quite like ready-made nesting material.
The bird houses come in a variety of forms as well – from the stereotypical four-walled slanted roof to dried gourds.
With the housing taken care of, food and water are close by.
In terms of the water, she has created an effective, easy to clean system. As seen in the photo at the top of this post, there are two stumps in her yard. On top of those she’s set two pans filled with water and secured each with a brick. Instead of scrubbing an unmovable concrete birdbath, she can simply cart them inside and wash them.
As far as her feeders, a few hold sunflowers, while the majority hold a different seed which escapes me at the moment. There are also hummingbird feeders that have been active this summer.
With setups like this, there are a few things to keep in mind. Where there are a high concentration of birds, there will also come predators.
In the distance, I could hear owls. I’ve also heard of a neighborhood bobcat, but since she lacks tall grasses around the exposed feeders, it may discourage it from being as present as it could potentially be. The lack of birds at night would probably do that too… but I digress.
Early in the process, several feeders were also destroyed by a black bear.
Then there is the cleanup and cost. Birds don’t care if they make a mess, so she’s limited the number of feeders over her deck to one. The rest are over her yard or in the woods. By spreading the seed among so many different feeders, refilling them isn’t necessary very frequently, but the total volume of seeds and cost can add up.
I applaud her efforts and look forward to hearing more stories of her backyard sightings.