House Finches are beginning to sing in my
backyard; I’ve heard Black-capped Chickadees,
Red-breasted Nuthatches, Northern Flickers, and
American Robins. I am happy to hear them,
even with snow on the ground and cold
I have been thinking about enhancing my
yard for birds; I know lots of you want a hand in
this respect. First of all, I am no plant expert.
Nor can I give you a fabulous list that will solve
all your problems at once.
What I am willing to do is give you some
ideas to assess your own yards and begin the
process. We can consider what birds need, then
how we can meet some of those needs.
If you have questions, send me a note via
email or to the PVAS PO Box 32. I can try to
incorporate your comments into the next couple
of months letters.
What do birds need? Food, water, shelter,
and space are what all organisms need to live.
What do I provide now; what could I easily
provide in the next year that will enhance the
experience of birds in and visiting my yard?
How can I keep my yard attractive to birds
during the whole year?
Selecting species or families would help
narrow down my process, but I could also
generally add items that would help. Before I
get too far with this track, I should make a
couple of other assessments.
How large is my yard? What types of soil
do I have for growing; can I enhance my soil to
grow plants better? How much water is
available and can I enhance this? How much
shade vs sunlight dominates my yard? Are
surrounding yards similar to mine or is mine an
oasis? What sort of shelter do I provide
near my feeder(s); what sort of predators or
dominant wildlife visit my yard? I am
thinking deer and pocket gophers
The presence of deer can drastically
affect what plants will be successful. Pocket
gophers can also wreak havoc with my
plantings. Domestically I have to deal with
prowling neighbor cats, one roaming,
unwelcome dog, and squirrels.
What do I already provide? How
successful is it? What type of feeders &
waterers do I have? Do I need baffles for
the feeders? Is my water enhanced with
dripping, to attract birds? Considering all of
these questions should help me prepare to
make some changes that will have greater
success than if I hadn’t tried.
Sally Roth, an author with lots of
experience in gardening for birds (Attracting
Songbirds to Your Backyard, among many
other titles,) suggests lettuce is a great
plant to attract birds for the whole growing
season. The tender leaves are eaten, along
with the insects it attracts, and the seed
head when it goes to seed. I think I will try
this, though I don’t know yet if deer like
I hope I have given you something to
think about, to help enhance your bird
habitat. Recently I have added
buffaloberry, and serviceberry bushes.
Canadian cherry is a hit. Flax and bachelor
buttons are fabulous for Lesser Goldfinch
and American Goldfinch.
My biggest goal is for variety of as
many natives as possible—trees, bushes,
Happy Birding and Gardening
March 11, 2021
After we had our second COVID-19 inoculation, Mary and I decided to head South to Palm Desert, California for a few weeks of sun and birding. Being a native son of Idaho I always find the luxury of near perfect weather somewhat unsettling. Does a person become soft and dopey if things are just the way you want them all the time?
Anyway, here we are. Presently the Costa’s Hummingbirds are flitting around our patio and demanding a feeder refill. Last year we had a nest with two babies in it on a patio support. Lots of fun to watch.
My favorite bird here is the Northern Mocking bird. It is a bit larger than a robin and has white strips on its wings and tail that makes it look like a fighter jet in flight. And boy, does it fly! Now, the best thing about this bird is its call. It will imitate other birds and has a whole repertoire of its own calls it likes to show off. There are lots of these birds around here, and they never stop entertaining me.
Right now all the local birders are excited about the groups of Swanson Hawks that are moving through the area. They are moving from Borrego Springs and heading north. Sometimes you can see quite a number of them in a day if you don’t take a nap in the afternoon.
Still, I like birding in American Falls more than here in the desert. Why, you might ask? Because of all the water in AF we have many more species, and we have birds that are much larger. Everyone here gets excited over a kettle of Turkey Vultures; I don’t tell them we have had upward of twelve in our trees at home occasionally, and they are not rare at all. Still they have the Vermilion Flycatcher here and that is a bird that has to be seen to be believed. So perhaps it all equals out.
I hope you are well and getting your shots. It is late afternoon here, and I am going to make a G&T, sit under our palm tree, and watch for mocking birds.