Singing for Their Supper: Gardening to Attract Migratory Songbirds . . .

August 23rd, 2012 § 3 comments § permalink

Viburnum plicatum var. tomentosum ‘Shasta’ Fruits in the Garden – A Cedar Waxwing Favorite

Late in summer, when tall grass sways in golden light and crickets sing long into morning, the garden begins to ripen in shades of red, orange, violet and plum. In August, migratory birds —making their way to exotic, tropical destinations— flock to my garden like jet-setters pausing for a gourmet meal and quick rest at a hip, mountain-top resort. Cedar Waxwings, with their high whistling calls, are the happening crowd this week; flitting about and flashing their glorious plumage and dark masks in fruity Viburnums …

Photo of the week - Cedar waxwing (MA)Cedar Waxwing ⓒ Bill Thompson/USFWS

Beautiful birds are as important to my garden as any of the plants growing within it. In order to attract and support birds, I’ve planted a wide variety of fruiting trees, shrubs and seed-producing perennials in the landscape. The Viburnum genus is especially attractive to songbirds, and with so many species and cultivars to choose from, it’s easy to find more than one to fit in any garden. Viburnum plicatum var. tomentosum (featured previously here) is a beautiful shrub that provides season-spanning support for wildlife. In addition to Viburnums, I grow a number of Dogwood (Cornus) species, Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius), Winterberry (Ilex verticillata), Juniper, Spicebush (Lindera benzoin), Ornamental Sumac (Rhus typhina), Elderberry (Sambucus), Buckeye (Aesculus) and many other fruit-bearing shrubs.

Nannyberry Viburnum (V. lentago) Fruits Ripen from Citrusy Hues to Blueish Black. The Coral Colored Stems Make a Stunning Contrast to the Dark-Hued Berries. Although Birds Eventually will Pick the Shrub Clean, There’s Plenty of Time to Enjoy the Visual Feast as Well…

Creating a bird-friendly habitat also means providing water —fresh, clean birdbath or water feature— and shelter. Conifers and shrubs with dense branching patterns offer excellent cover and protection from predators and the elements. Hemlock (Tsuga), Spruce (Picea), Fir (Abies) and Cedar (Thuja) are important sources of both food and shelter for birds throughout the seasons. For more information on attracting birds, visit Cornell-University’s Lab of Ornithology here. And for additional photos and berry-good planting ideas, click back to my earlier post —Oh Tutti-Fruitti— here.

Kousa Dogwood (Cornus kousa) Berries Provide Sustenance to a Variety of Birds and Squirrels From Late Summer through Early Winter

Magical Callicarpa dichotoma ‘Issi’ is Not Only a Beautiful Ornamental, but a Magnet for Feathered Garden Guests as Well!

Cedar Waxwing Photo is ⓒ Bill Thompson/USFWS  – Courtesy of the Photographer, via Flickr Creative Commons 

All Other Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All images, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you! 

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Nesting Plans…

March 15th, 2011 § 4 comments § permalink

Nest Photograph ⓒ  Tim Geiss at Poltergeiss

Chirping, cawing, calling and singing; suddenly, the forest has come alive with the sound of migratory birds. Soon, it will be nesting time and you know what they say: the early bird catches the best real estate. OK, so maybe that’s not quite what they say, but Cornell Lab of Ornithology does advise backyard birders to begin placing their nest boxes in February (warmer climates) and March (cold climates like mine). So, I like to get my rental units ready early, to attract as many spring and summer tenants as possible. Birds provide beauty and entertainment in my garden —to be sure— but my feathered friends also play a key role in natural insect control. I prefer to take advantage of this free service that nature provides for us, rather than use potentially hazardous, unnatural and expensive substances to control insect pests in my garden.

Finding the right house for both bird and landscape is important. I’ve found some really pretty, functional options amongst the ever-changing selection available at Terrain online (image courtesy Terrain).

When it comes to nesting boxes and bird houses, all species have different preferences and requirements. Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a great source of information, and you can find tips on what kind of bird house you will need and how to place it to attract a specific species (like say, a bluebird) by visiting this page on their site, linked here. Online retailers like Duncraft provide excellent pre-made birdhouses and kits for backyard bird enthusiasts, and I recently found some very stylish avian homes at Terrain, pictured below. So get out your feather duster and your screw gun, it’s time to ready the real estate!

Terrain’s Weathered Birdbarn $28.95

Nest in Hemlock Boughs. Photograph ⓒ Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden

Terrain’s Thatched Roof Nest House $24.00

Tufted Titmouse  ⓒ  Tim Geiss at Poltergeiss

Learning to identify and protect backyard birds helps kids develop a respect and greater understanding of the natural world and balance of our shared ecosystem. Read more about the Tufted Titmouse and listen to its echoing and distinctive voice here at Cornell Lab of Ornithology. And please share the link with a child you know.

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Thank you to Tim Geiss for his beautiful bird and nest photos.

Birdhouse photos are courtesy Terrain.

Article and photo as noted are copyright Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden, all rights reserved. All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used, reproduced or reposted elsewhere without written consent.

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