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Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocepha...Image via Wikipedia

Bird Feeders: Landscaping For Birds
By Kelvin Brown
As people learn to enjoy the beauty of birds around their home, they may wish to improve the "habitat" in their yard so that more birds will visit their property. Let’s look at planting a variety of trees, shrubs, and flowers to attract birds. These can provide good nesting sites, winter shelter, places to hide from predators and natural food supplies that are available year-round.

Beautiful landscaping isn’t only for attracting birds. It can increase your property value, provide natural beauty, and become a playground for young ones as various wildlife is attracted to your yard.

Landscaping for birds involves nine basic principles:

1. Food
Every bird species has its own unique food requirements that may change as the seasons change. Learn the food habits of the birds you wish to attract. Then plant the appropriate trees, shrubs, and flowers to provide the fruits, berries, seeds, acorns, and nectar.

2. Water
You may be able to double the number of bird species in your yard by providing a source of water. A frog pond, water garden, or bird bath will get lots of bird use, especially if the water is dripping, splashing or moving.

3. Shelter
Birds need places where they can hide from predators and escape from severe weather. Trees (including dead ones), shrubs, tall grass and bird houses provide excellent shelter.

4. Diversity
The best landscaping plan is one that includes a variety of native plants. This helps attract the most bird species.

5. Four Seasons
Give the birds food and shelter

throughout the year by planting a variety of trees, shrubs and flowers that provide year-round benefits.

6. Arrangement
Properly arrange the different habitat components in your yard. Consider the effects of prevailing winds (and snow drifting) so your yard will be protected from harsh winter weather.

7. Protection
Birds should be protected from unnecessary mortality. When choosing the placement of bird feeders and nest boxes, consider their accessibility to predators. Picture windows can also be dangerous for birds. They tend to fly directly at windows when they see the reflection of trees and shrubs.
A network of parallel, vertical strings spaced 4 inches apart can be placed on the outside of windows to prevent this problem. Be cautious about the kinds of herbicides and pesticides used in your yard. Apply them only when necessary and strictly according to label instructions. In fact, try gardening and lawn care without using pesticides. Details can be found in gardening books at the library.

8. Hardiness Zones
When considering plants not native to your area, consult a plant hardiness zone map, found in most garden catalogues. Make sure the plants you want are rated for the winter hardiness zone classification of your area.

9. Soils and Topography
Consult your local garden center, university or county extension office to have your soil tested. Plant species are often adapted to certain types of soils. If you know what type of soil you have, you can identify the types of plants that will grow best in your yard.
Kelvin Brown, author of the Introduction to Bird Watching, is a nature and bird lover. You can get additional information by visiting

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