Friday, October 22, 2010

Giving Poor Landscaping New Life

A couple of weeks ago I had to make a tough decision for my front landscaping and took out one of its most bird-friendly features: two Colorado blue spruce trees. The trees were put in before we ever bought the house, and they were poorly positioned - one within two feet of the sidewalk and the other two feet from our garage. These are trees that will grow to forty feet tall and a twenty foot diameter, and even as young trees they were crowding into where they shouldn't be and were taking damage from it. While they could have been trimmed, that is only a temporary fix and the best option was to remove them completely. I did ask my landscaper about the possibility of transplanting them, but he was frank in giving the odds as poor at best for their survival.

That doesn't mean there isn't a bird friendly solution, however. For several years I've maintained a brush pile on the west side of the house, out of sight and protected from the winds and weather between the house and fence. Those pine trees are now a part of that much larger brush pile, and the house sparrows couldn't be happier - just when I walk out to check on any given day, two dozen or more birds will flutter up from the branches to perch on the fence and keep a wary eye on me. One branch, in particular, is a favorite - the cut end is poised at the top of a small section of pile right near one of the house windows, and the birds are always perching on that tip and peering inside.

Evergreens are critical for bird-friendly habitat, as they provide a year-round sheltered location for roosting, nesting, and as general protection from predators. In the spring, I do plan on replanting the areas that are now denuded - low growing evergreen shrubs will go near the sidewalk, and a much smaller, more appropriate tree will take up residence near the garage. Until then, however, the sparrows will have to make do with their brush pile, and they don't seem unhappy about it at all.

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