When we think of gardens, bright and colorful blossoms, sunshine and summer come to mind - not the cold, bleak and snowy months of winter. But what if we designed our gardens to attract birds that would bring color, movement, and sound to our yard through the winter? We might find ourselves staring out at our garden, captivated by the view, just as we were in the summer.
To attract birds to your garden, start at the top and work down. Birdhouses installed in nearby trees or on posts draw the eye and the birds to a specific area. With so many colors and styles of birdhouse to choose from, you can create a bird habitat to accent any home style. From the traditional to the truly unique (try douglasfeypottery.com), birdhouses accent your personal style while offering your winter visitors a place to nest out of the cold. You should also give your birds a place to play. Like your birdhouse, birdbaths can be traditional, bright and bold statements or a “bubbler” for something playful with soothing water noises. Just like when we played in the sprinkler as children, birds like to play in the water!
The next step is to plant bushes and flowers that will attract your feathered friends. To draw the flighty and delicate hummingbirds, plant Monarda, Lobelia, Salvia, and any other red flowers. Finches love the Rudbeckias, like Blackeyed Susans and Coneflowers, for their centers full of seeds. Trees and shrubs that produce berries are also a favorite - try new varieties of Crabapples, Hollies, or Viburnums. Ornamental grasses can make great nesting material; Leave them up all winter and cut them back in the spring. Cedars and Hollies also make great nesting places and protection for the birds in the winter.
Finally, tempt the birds with food. Have your children make pinecones with fruit or peanut butter and ropes of cranberry or popcorn. Once you know which types of birds have come to nest in your garden, select the type of seeds they like best and keep your feeders full. Remember to keep birdfeeders clean and squirrel-proof and look after the “ground feeders” too – toss a little seed on the ground for them!
Bird gardens also make great science projects for children as they learn to identify birds, know what type(s) of seed they prefer, the difference in their chirps and behavior. For example, did you know that the Junco's come to feed when snow is coming?
To discuss designing your own bird garden, contact Elizabeth Johnston, Landscape Designer, at 973-445-3643.