Gardening for the Birds: How to Create a Bird-Friendly Backyard

Gardening for the Birds: How to Create a Bird-Friendly Backyard

by George Adams

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Overview

Gardening for the Birds: How to Create a Bird-Friendly Backyard by George Adams

“An engaging and inspiring comprehensive guide.” —Booklist

“A great benefit of creating a bird-friendly landscape is enjoying your garden while watching a bluebird dropping in for a worm in a freshly dug patch, a phoebe snapping at insects, or a hummingbird probing nectar-rich flowers while robins sing in the trees.” With the right native plants, arranged to mimic natural ecosystems, you will provide birds with food, water, shelter, and nesting places. Instead of just visiting your garden to snack, birds will call it home! George Adams offers close-up profiles of birds from across all regions of North America to teach you their nesting, breeding, and feeding habits along with guidance for regional plant selection and garden design. 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781604694093
Publisher: Timber Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 07/02/2013
Pages: 444
Sales rank: 496,014
Product dimensions: 7.60(w) x 9.50(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

George Adams is a landscape designer, wildlife artist, photographer, writer, and traveler. Drawing on a lifelong interest in natural science and concern for the damage inflicted by the built environment on the natural world, he developed a concept for landscaping in which birds and other wildlife are a vital part of the garden’s design.

Read an Excerpt

Introduction
Birds have inspired mankind through the ages, bringing joy, song, and color to our gardens while taking away only insect pests. You and your family can have countless hours of pleasure from birds, plants, and the natural environment when you create a bird-friendly garden as your own backyard sanctuary. Your garden will become a source of entertainment and a restful escape from the pressures of the outside world.

When you landscape your yard with carefully chosen regional native plants to provide food, shelter, and nesting sites for birds, you’ll find that an increased variety of birds will visit—species that might not usually be regarded as garden birds or attracted to a bird feeder. You will be providing a variety of food niches in your garden, and you will also be creating an environment that will encourage biodiversity, from the tiny organisms we are barely aware of, to captivating butterflies, moths, and dragonflies. Even if you only have a small place for planting, choosing plants that are beneficial to birds will add to the overall availability of habitat for our local bird populations.

A great benefit of creating a bird-friendly landscape is enjoying your garden while watching a bluebird dropping in for a worm in a freshly dug patch, a phoebe snapping at insects, or a hummingbird probing nectar-rich flowers while robins sing in the trees. Simply put, when you create a garden with attracting birds in mind, you will be providing an open invitation for spectacular birds to make your garden their home.

To attract birds to your garden, the backbone of your landscaping plan should be local native plants. By putting in native plants and using an organic, sustainable approach to gardening, you establish a balanced ecosystem in your yard. A greater variety of birds and butterflies will visit and linger, insect pests will be kept under control by insect-eating birds (reducing the need for harmful insecticides), and the wonder of nature will be part of your everyday living environment.

The ultimate aim of this book is to give you the tools to set up a sustainable ecosystem in your own yard. There, the natural order of things can flourish and you can count the local birds among your companions.
 
It is easy to turn an ordinary landscape into an extraordinary backyard filled with lively, colorful birds. In this book, I explain how. First, I introduce you to the basics of planning and creating a bird-friendly garden. I discuss the elements that all birds need—food, water, shelter, and nesting sites—and give you plenty of practical suggestions for providing them in your yard. You’ll find details on creating a hummingbird garden, and how to use wildflowers to provide for butterflies and seed-eating birds. I’ve also included flowering and fruiting calendars to help you select plants for a continuous supply of nectar, fruit, and seeds. And I offer tips for the best native nesting and shelter plants and how to build nest boxes.

Next, in part 2, I guide you through understanding how your yard fits into the larger environment of your region and what plants will grow well in your geographic area. I discuss the importance of native plants in attracting birds, and give you helpful information on planning and creating a garden that will be full of likely bird habitats. To help you get your garden up and growing, I include many how-to tips: on soil care, planting, plant care, and plant feeding. And to make this section even more useful, I clarify how to choose and use plants in the garden to attract the most diverse range of birds. You’ll also find suggestions on working with small garden spaces, and how to protect your garden from pests and unwanted visitors.

The Plant Directory, part 3, is a detailed guide to important North American native plants that provide food, shelter, and nesting sites for local birds. The native trees, shrubs, vines, perennials, annuals, ground covers, and grasses I describe are all beautiful landscape plants that appeal to the gardener as much as to the birds. Many of them may already occur naturally in your area. Each plant is discussed and many are illustrated in a color photograph. You’ll find a list of birds attracted to the plants. Then I give the best plant species for attracting birds, with descriptions, distribution, cultivation information, and hardiness zones for each.

Part 4, the Bird Directory, provides discussion of many of the delightful birds you may want to attract to your backyard garden. I have featured a broad selection of the most beloved birds from coast to coast, from the eastern bluebird to Anna’s hummingbird. Each entry has a photo of the bird and one of my original drawings of the bird with a favorite native plant. You’ll find a description of the bird and its habits, what its song sounds like, plus its preferred habitat, breeding behavior, nesting style, and feeding habits. A range map is provided for each bird, along with its migration and winter range and its breeding range, so you can see if it lives or spends time in your area. A list of plants for food and shelter tells you good plant choices to attract each bird.

At the back of the book, I’ve also provided a metric conversion chart. And if you want to learn more about birding and gardening to attract birds, I have included a resources section as well as a reading list. Joining some of the organizations listed in the resources is not only a great way to learn more; it’s a wonderful way to meet other native plant enthusiasts and fellow bird fans.

By establishing a bird-friendly ecosystem around your home, arresting color, birdsong, and antics of our native birds will add to the splendor of native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers to create a spiritually uplifting garden environment. You will also be making an important contribution toward the preservation of North America’s distinctive natural heritage.
 

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