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 biodiversitythe 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.