I've always had birdfeeders and enjoy watching the various feathered visitors, but what I really wanted was a dog. Unfortunately, my husband isn't much of a dog person, so as I was eyeing the backyard one morning, watching the house finches chase one another around the pole-mounted hopper feeder, I was inspired to compromise. Fine, no dog, but I get to control the landscaping to turn our relatively bare backyard into a bird sanctuary for local species and welcome migratory wanderers.
Our house is only a few years old (built in 2001), and there is very little in the way of landscaping at the moment. There are lovely mulched flowerbeds but they are empty, and a rear garden area that we don't use. The only tree when we bought the house was a dwarf variety near the patio, but we planted an October Glory Maple that will take years to look like more than a stick with leaves. There are a few small flowering cover plants, and we also planted a lilac (still tiny), but other than that the yard is an open area with no avian cover. My goal is to restructure the yard into an attractive, inviting place for birds of all species to rest, feed, and bathe. My ideas at the moment include:
- Removing the garden area in favor of finishing the curbing for integrated beds.
- Creating a permanent dust bath area.
- Filling the beds with appropriate low trees, shrubs, and flowers to attract numerous species.
- Adding specialized feeders, birdbaths, and other accessories at different levels.
- Including an area for annual sunflower gardening (free birdseed!).
Undoubtedly there will be more to come as I design the best way to landscape and accessorize the yard. Just as every fledgling must take that first step into open air, however, so too must every birder make that first commitment to their local bird community. A migration of a thousand miles begins with a single flap.