I love songbirds of all types, and I know you probably feel the same way. I get such a kick out of watch the cedar waxwings flock to the holly hedge in my garden to feed on the berries in late winter. Each bird seems frantic to be the one to eat the most berries.
Lucky for an amateur birder like me, there are people who are dedicated to understanding these beautiful creatures better. Dan Scheiman with Audubon Arkansas is one such person and he shared some helpful tips about creating a backyard habitat for birds.
Dan Scheiman, Aududon Arkansas: Everywhere you go you can see birds. That’s one of the great things about them. That’s why birds are so popular. They’re just so accessible, so viewable to everybody.
But if you want to have birds in your backyard so you can see them more closely, on a regular basis, there are 4 things that you need to provide. That’s food, water, shelter, and also a place to nest. And you can provide those 4 things in both a natural way and in a supplemental way.
For food, of course, the natural way is to plant native plant species for the birds -trees, shrubs, vines, grasses that provide the seeds and fruits and nuts that birds need to eat. And I stress native plant species because those are the ones that the birds are adapted to. They’re the ones that provide the right kinds of food, the right kinds of nutrition at the right times of year. They need less pesticides, less watering, so they’re a benefit for you, for the environment, and for the birds.
If you’re going be providing these things in a supplemental way, that’s often through providing feeders, through a bird bath, or through a nest box, then you want to make sure that you clean those things on a regular basis. Birds will spread disease from one individual to the next when they congregate in large numbers, and they do that at your backyard feeders. So if you keep your feeders clean, then you keep down the incidence in spread of disease. So that’s part of being a good steward for your birds and maintaining a healthy backyard for birds.
Today I’ve seen blue jays, American robins. I saw a mockingbird that was imitating other birds. One of my favorite birds and one of the birds I just saw today is the cedar waxwing. A lot of birders enjoy keeping a list of the birds. That’s part of the fun, the enjoyment, helps them to go back and reminisce over the birds that you’ve seen. And then you can take that a step further. There are ways that we as average citizens who are watching birds in our backyard and are watching birds in our local parks and refuges can contribute to science by submitting our lists.
By participating in a number of citizens’ science programs, we can all contribute to science, to bird conservation just by going out, watching the birds, and keeping track of the birds that we see in different places.