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Think like a Bird
January 12, 2009
With the holiday hangover, I forgot to change the letter title last week.
It still read Christmas memories, I hope you didn't delete it.
I continue to heal and doctor has lifted some weight restrictions.
I asked about theropy and he said not to do a thing.
He mentioned sit ups or crunches actually harm the back and neck and you will pay the price down the road.
He did say I could get one of those balls to work on, however.
Keet and Ziglet are left out on the walks as winter kicks in again.
Yes, after a short reprieve and some serious snow melt, winter is back in full swing.
We've had some much needed snow, as some Arctic cold is heading our way.
Yes, needed snow.
It may sound strange, but snow is a great insulator for plants and even some animals.
Another one of "Nature's" many wonders.
Much like your house insulation, a good blanket of snow aids in keeping the real cold from reaching your dormant plants and any winter animals that hunker down in the white stuff.
Just as important is keeping the snow brushed from your feeders and keeping a matted down spot for ground feeders.
Now I understand you folks that live in the South and other warm regions rarely experience this and I can understand your jealousy of not bundling up and trudging through the snow, but that is the price you pay for living in the warm climates.
Hey, you can't have it all :-)
As the weather turns, so does the activity at my feeders.
Six or more pair of Northern cardinals are regular visitors along with finches, chickadees, titmice, various sparrows (including Juncos), Blue jays, Red belly, Hairy and downy woodpeckers.
An occasional White breasted nuthatch and as winter wears on, more and more Mourning doves.
Missing this year (for me) are the Red breasted nuthatches.
There was a nice little article in birds and Blooms on these particular nuthaches, but the article failed to mention a couple of things about Red breasted nuthatches.
These little birds are an irruptive bird.
If you are like me and they are lacking at your feeders, you now know why.
Most often Red breasted nuthatches are found in Northern forests and mountainous regions.
I said most of the time, you may be blessed with these birds year round.
You can expect them maybe next year or for sure the following year (usually every 3 years they irrupt).
Yes, last year was a bonus year as many species irrupted including Redpolls.
If you have Red breasted nuthatches, they are very easy to hand train with a little patience, you will be rewarded.
Last year I had three different ones feed from my hand, but one little male was special.
By mid winter, when I would see him, I would grab some peanut pieces and as soon as the door would open, he would fly to me.
There were occasions, I would simple stick my arm out the door and he would come.
So tame was this little guy that he would feed from Karen, Yolanda, my brother and then 8 year old grandson.
Give it a try.
So far this year I have had one time with a Black capped chickadee. I mentioned how to care for your amaryllis bulbs last week.
Now, some of you may have "Paper whites" and you may wonder about these bulbs.
Paper whites are native to the Mediterranean region and are hardy to zone7.
If you live in zones 7 - 11, you can plant them outside.
In colder climates, you can try treating them as you would your amaryllis bulbs, but experts suggest to through them out after they are done.
Last week I mentioned that it is a good idea to take some graph paper, pencil and eraser and start making some plans for this spring's yard and gardens.
It is a good time year when most of us have little going on.
When things are on paper, it keeps your mind sharp and helps you with new and fresh ideas.
With graph paper, each square can equal one foot, five feet, 10 feet and so on.
You can draw things in to scale and size.
It all depends on the size of your yard or section to be worked on.
Now, if you really want to attract birds, you must think like a bird.
No, I didn't call you a bird brain, I meant to train your eyes and thinking onto what birds and wildlife see when the are checking out your kingdom.
With your paper and pencil, sketch in your home, swimming pool , fire pit, tennis court or what have you.
Now go outside and walk to the street or the beginning of your yard (if it's not in three feet of snow).
What do you see?
Does it look inviting, no matter the time of year?
Do you see trees?
In Spring and Summer is your yard a sight to behold as waving flowers say welcome friends?
Are birds and butterflies flitting about?
Are there trees to offer a shady spot to rest?
Is there a large expanse of green carpet (not good for much)?Is there a nice hedge row to one side?
Maybe there is a tree or two shading your home with a poor excuse for grass trying to grow under them.
What is planted along the front and side of your home?
Can you improve this with shrubs and flowers that will draw birds and butterflies in?
Is it possible to create a walking path for you to enjoy?
Do you have a patio or deck where you spend much of your relaxing time on pleasant days?
Can you draw wildlife closer by creating a container garden?
Hummingbirds and butterflies will freely visit containers and window boxes.
Can you get a bird's eye view?
If you have a two story house, look out your windows.
This gives you an idea on what birds see.
If you have money burning a hole in your pocket, take a blimp ride over your palace or hire a photographer that will fly over.
If you have neighbors, do they have trees that can attract birds as well?
Your neighbor's yards can be an extension of your habitats.
Make sure at least one tree or some shrubs are conifers (evergreens) as the offer protection year round from predators and the element plus offer food.
Is there a row of trees growing along your street or an open field?
These trees offer protection as birds fly from one location to another.
If you are along this flight path, your bird friendly yard will become a place for birds to forage, drink and bathe and some will call it home.
For migrating birds, your yard can become a "Motel 6."
A no frills place where they can get a good night's sleep.
Plus you are offering a continental breakfast before they continue there journey.
Birds and butterflies like no frills, in fact they prefer thing a bit messy.
Just look at "Nature's" offerings.
Nothing tidy about nature at all.
Plants and trees seem to be tossed together.
Leaf litter.................... no problem.
Some good eats are to be had under the litter.
If you live in a wooded lot, you can help by thinning some trees out to allow for understory and ground cover.
Controlled thinning and planting is actually good for a smaller block of land.
Now it can and does depend on where you live (region and location) on what you can and will attract.
A vast majority of wildlife lives in and near the woods edge.
That soft buffer or edge between grown trees and open meadows.
This is what you want to achieve if possible, that soft edge look. If the soft edge isn't possible, can you plant a hedge row of mixed shrubs and small trees?
be sure to plant some flowers and thick plants that offer ground cover.
A hedge row isn't this broomed hedge of all the same shrubs, a hedge row is more like you would see in an old farm field where a fence line once stood.
Different trees and shrubs grow along the line surrounded by native flowers and grasses.
Hedge rows are an oasis for wildlife.
In cities, hedge rows may grow between factories and boundary lines.
Even what is called the "Urban Savannah" (Cities and subdivisions where there is a tree or two placed every so often) attracts certain species of birds.
By adding to your little corner of earth, you may have some of these birds stick around instead of flying through.
In the Prairies, life fills the tall grasslands, thickets, hedge rows and pockets of trees.
The desert southwest offers many different creatures.
Life is everywhere, but you must know where to look.
Unique habitats offer unique creatures and plant life.
Knowing what is the key.
Where do the birds and animals go and come from?
As with all species, when there is population growth, the yearlings are often kicked out by the dominant adults.
Habitat destruction also forces wildlife to move and relocate.
Habitat loss also means the decline of many species of wildlife.
Critters that once visited your yard and feeders were forced out.
Or, you may be the benefactor to some degree and wildlife has moved in.
They have to find some place to live, so they fly or roam from place to place. Meadows, woods or where ever they can find a place to call home.
Why not your yard?
As you sketch out your kingdom on paper, draw in all hard structures, trees and currant garden and flower beds.
Be sure to draw in real size and plants at mature size.
Can you make that spot under a tree more attractive by planting shade tolerant shrubs, nectar and fruit producing shrubs.
Flowers and ferns make a great ground cover.
Do you have room for a brush pile?
Can you reduce some lawn space for living space?
Remember, you want to mimic nature so build a good understory beneath the tree canopy.
Low growing natives create a nice ground cover as well.
The whole idea is to build a canopy, understory and floor covering.
At each level you will discover wildlife every where.
Not just birds.
Small mammals will visit.
Butterflies will brighten your gardens
Toads and salamanders will call your yard home.
Get The Picture?
Don't make things to complicated.
Wildlife likes things messy.
I know it can be difficult to retain, but look at God's creation.
It is what I call an organized mess.
Landscape and garden rules say to plant in odd numbers 1,3,5,7 and so on.I've never seen that rule followed in any wildlife garden.
You can if it makes you feel better and adds some organization, but feel free to toss out the rule book.
One thing I will add.
Plant like need plants, with like need plants.
It is folly to plant something with high water needs with a bunch of plants that thrive in drier conditions.
Shade loving plants will suffer or die in the sun and visa versa.
Add water and some feeders.
Now you have the four elements needed to attract birds.
A place to raise a family.
Nature doesn't ask for much.
Treat her well, and the returns can be countless.
Gardening For Wildlife will bring nature to your yard and you will have color and activity year round.
Birds, butterflies and mammals come and go, but there is always something happening.Often I am asked "Why don't I have any birds?"
Birds are wild and prefer the wild most often.
Our feed offers about 25% of their diet on most occasions.
Some days, birds are doing what birds do best.
Another answer may be that your feeders are to far in the open. Place them 10 to 12 feet from protection (the same for water). Hhas major habitat change taken place recently?
Don't expect to many birds if you live in the middle of an old corn field with little or no protection, even if your neighbors that live 1/8 mile away have cardinals, Steller jays or a Varied thrush.
I'm sure your neighbors live near a wooded area and or offer protection for the birds already.
If you live in the wide open, you may attract Eastern bluebirds, some goldfinches and sparrows.
It is paramount to know and understand the birds and wildlife in your area.
Gardening For wildlife offers many surprises.
One day you will discover or notice a bird, butterfly or something you haven't seen before.
Take a picture if you can.
Record it in your journal.
Report rare sightings.
Things can be done on a budget and don't expect an over night success. Gardens are an on going endeavor, but that is what makes them so much fun.
Besides, Gardening and Wildlife are good for your health.
For generations, new plants have been introduced. We grow up thinking hostas and daylilies are native plants when they aren't.
People move from place to place not understanding what is native or taking plants with them.
You may want to learn more about the native trees shrubs and flowers in your area.
There are many to chose from.
I have given you a few ideas on some can't miss trees, shrubs, ( and flowers for much of The United States and Canada).
Native trees attract wildlife
You will be amazed at the wide and diverse range of natives availible to you.
Don't forget some yard art or a wind chime or two.
After all, the joy is for you as well.
Well, it's time to fly for now.
As always, before I go.
Here is your positive quote for the week
When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.
Helen Keller (1880-1968) American Writer
I would have loved to have met Helen Keller.
Can you imagine the difficulties she had to go through yet she managed a positive and productive life.
Once things clicked, I don't think anything could have kept her down.
She learned one of life's important lessons.
It is okay to look back, but don't live in the past.
Life is in the now.
To often we dwell and mourn on the past.
How many times have you said "If only" or dwell on the "Whys' or "How comes" of the past.
It's okay to remember that closed door but don't continue to look at it.
God continues to offer new and open doors.
A fresh start.
A new one to love.
A new job opportunity.
A new best friend.
A chance to help.
And much more.
The open doors are there for us....... for you.
It is simple, live life in the now and look to the future.
It's okay to remember the past, but don't live it or continue to stare at a closed door.
The world is full of nay sayers, but you aren't one of them.
Smile and look for the open doors.
You never know, one of your smiles just might open a special door for you.
Show off your pearly whites and be sure to share your FREE smiles this week.
Your living in the now and prayerfully looking at the future.
Until next time my friend.
"Treat the earth well:
It was not given to you by your parents,
It was loaned to you by your children.
We do not inherit the Earth from our
Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."
Ancient Indian Proverb
Your friend indeed,
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