Lee Valley Tools Gardening Newsletter
Vol. 4, Issue 2
April 2009
Grow a Garden for Birds
Dark-eyed junco
A dark-eyed junco perches amid pearly everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea).

Imagine a spring robin hopping around the yard, a tiny hummingbird zipping through the garden or a friendly black-capped chickadee at the feeder. No matter where you live, in an urban or a rural setting, most people enjoy watching and feeding the birds. Often, we welcome them as garden guests.

These days, our feathered friends can use our hospitality. Sadly, some North American wild bird populations are shrinking, especially those of songbirds. Evening grosbeaks, field sparrows, whippoorwills, eastern meadowlarks and boreal chickadees are all in decline. Loss of natural habitat, increasing urban development, collisions with cars and buildings, the use of pesticides and insecticides and even roaming cats all contribute to their diminished numbers.

Consider lending a helping hand by creating a bird-friendly habitat. The key is biodiversity—the greater the variety of plants, such as trees, shrubs, native flowers and grasses, the greater the numbers of birds you will attract. Plants provide shelter, food, and nesting materials for birds; they also attract insects on which birds feed. Even dead trees, provided they pose no danger for humans, and brush piles can be vital for birds, especially woodpeckers. Native plants are preferable, whenever possible.

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