[Tweeters] Bird-friendly plantings

Christine Southwick clsouth at u.washington.edu
Thu Mar 5 15:34:34 PST 2009


Kelly,

I totally agree with your statement:

Don't forget that a large percentage

> of birds rely to some extent on invertebrates that eat detritus (or eat

> other organisms that eat detritus).


Because my yard only had lawn for approx 40 years before I bought it, I have been bringing in small leaves from other peoples yards for compost around the natives I have planted, and to cover a path going to the far back of my property. [Neighbors used to look at me funny when I ask if they will give me a bag or two of their leaves, but I figure the birds are worth it.]
It is so fun to watch the Spotted Towhees, Fox Sparrows, and Song Sparrows kick through the leaves finding good things to eat. (The last three years I've even had Hermit, Swanson, and Varied Thrushes passing through).

I also leave the flower heads on most of the flowers all winter (I make the most visible flower bed a little neater, but the closer the beds are to the fence, the wilder I leave them)(including two small, not visible from the house, brush piles). I have been rewarded with more birds and more varieties stopping in my yard as they migrate. I have several species that use my yard year round, including juncos.

I don't use pesticides, and I don't worry about a chewed leaf or two. I wage war on slugs by using iron phosphate (a soil component) as needed during spring thru fall. I let everything live during deep winter. And I always remember that even though I don't live directly on a creek, rain runoff from my yard and the street in front of my yard will affect wildlife either in the creek and lake and/or directly in-between.


Christine Southwick
N Seattle/ Shoreline
clsouthwick at q.com

On Thu, 5 Mar 2009, Kelly Cassidy wrote:


> Serviceberry is a nice plant; I have one in my yard that's doing OK,

> considering I have alkaline clay soil and I think it does better in sandier

> soil. (Not sure of its pH preference.)

>

>

>

> Just a reminder, however, to think beyond fruit. Or seeds. Or even plants

> that attract insects that birds like. Don't forget that a large percentage

> of birds rely to some extent on invertebrates that eat detritus (or eat

> other organisms that eat detritus). As I type this, I'm watching a Varied

> Thrush kicking around among the detritus in a sheltered area in the blowing

> snow, no doubt looking for bugs and such that have begun stirring with

> warmer weather.

>

>

>

> In temperate climates, even the most frugivorous of birds cannot live on

> fruit year-round. Designate a part of the yard as the unkempt area, with a

> variety of grasses, shrubs, and forbs, and where you will leave the leaves

> where they fall and the dead stems standing over winter. (Take care not to

> create a fire hazard.)

>

>

>

> If you have a place where it is safe to create a brush pile (a major fire

> hazard during the dry months of summer), many birds will use it for safety

> and foraging.

>

>

>

> As far as planting stuff, there is a large clump of goldenrod (Solidago) in

> the ditch in my yard that is surprisingly popular with birds, who seem to

> eat the flowers (or probably the nectar and insects), seeds, and insects

> that live on the plant. I haven't tried seriously to figure out exactly

> what species of Solidago it is, but since I don't see any of it in the

> surrounding fields, it doesn't seem to be one of the weedy invasives.

>

>

>

> Kelly Cassidy

>

> Pullman, WA

>

>

>

>

>

>


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