On this Christmas Eve day of giving when so many people, including me, are dashing about for a few little last minute gifts, I’m taking time to celebrate the gift of birds and to think of ways to give back to them.
Here in snowy Missoula, all the resident birds know full well how to survive the winter. For my favorite, the kingfisher, we can help best by preserving clean, fish-filled waterways with trees for perching and banks for nesting. For others, we can offer them a little more comfort and joy with delicious black oil sunflower seeds and suet in a backyard feeder.
Then, when it comes to truly providing for birds nearby, go native! Winter is a great time for scheming on native plant additions to your yard that will give birds amazing nutrition, hiding and nesting places. (Looking for a last minute gift? Buy Doug Tallamy’s Bringing Nature Home for inspiration and practical ideas!)
As part of looking back at 2015, I’d like to give thanks to the native plant and bird gardeners I met in my writing for National Audubon’s bird-friendly community program. Each person has taken on the challenge of planting natives for birds to create a haven that gives hope to our birds and contributes to the larger quilt of bird habitats that people are piecing together along our migratory flyways..
My thanks to Sue and Mike Daugherty in La Grande, Oregon, who have transformed their front,back, and side yard into an oasis that has attracted more than 100 bird species since 1988.(And my appreciation, too, for Sue’s featured photo of a northern flicker in their winter yard).
My thanks go to Nicole Hamilton in Waterford, Virginia. Walking with her in her hardwood forest backyard feels like entering the bird-filled tropics: so rich and lush!
Thanks to Dan Scheiman of Little Rock, Arkansas, whose urban yard demonstrates how small spaces can be super-packed with favorite native plants for the birds he conserves in his word for Audubon.
Thanks to Terresa Carter of Baltimore who takes the “small is beautiful” concept to heart. Even in a very small back patio in the city, she has layered native plants vertically on walls and in pots with outstanding results. Hummingbirds and more find her yard as if drawn by a magnetic force.
My final note of appreciation is to every bird in the world that reminds us every day of the miraculous magical world we are so fortunate to inhabit.
“Hope” is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul.”
Thanks to you for sharing and promoting conservation. Did you get to see the Fieldfare that showed up in Missoula the last few days?
How to create a garden that is good for growing local food as well as providing for birds is a great and evolving idea. There is some debate on how to best do that. There is more to it than simply planting native, and in fact more studies are showing that diversity and structure may be more important than plant origin. Might be a good topic for future posts. Especially important as our changing weather and urban development has created a lot of new stress for many bird populations.
Thank you Paul as always for your thoughtful insights. Yes–so much to learn in nature’s complexity and the more eyes we have like yours watching and hands like yours practicing in your own yard, the more we can supplement what science tells us too.