We know from conversations, that many people would like to at least have more birds in their gardens. We have given illustrated talks on this and have plenty of ideas for you … but it will take a while before the information can be re-worked and appears on the site. When it does, this is the place to be, meanwhile here are some basic things everyone can try.
- During winter, put out plenty of varied foodstuffs for different species of birds. No harm is continuing this in the summer either.
- Create a songbird border of native trees and shrubs to shelter your yard from the wind. Choose berry-producing landscape plants, such as juniper trees and shrubs like dogwood, serviceberry, and viburnum; many boreal birds, such as the Cedar Waxwing, the Yellow-rumped Warbler, and several sparrow species, eat berries during the winter. Early fall is the perfect time to plant — though be sure to put wire-mesh cages around the new plants to protect them from mice, deer, and rabbits if they are a problem where you live.
- Make a brush pile in the corner of the yard to shelter the birds from predators and storms and to provide night roosting places. Put logs and larger branches on the bottom and layer smaller branches on top.
- Rake leaves up under trees and shrubs—and leave them there. The resulting mulch will make a lush environment for the insects and spiders that ground feeding birds, such as Sparrows, like to eat.
- Turn part of your lawn into a mini-meadow by letting it grow up in grass and weeds. (Mow it once a year, in late summer.) Seed-eating boreal visitors, including several sparrow species and the Dark-eyed Junco, will benefit from your letting things go literally to seed. “In general, overly tidy gardeners are poor bird gardeners” (Kress)
How to make a Garden Bird Magnet Waterfall
Following a post in May 2017 about the “bird magnet” waterfall that has contributed so effectively over the years to the 115 species of birds on our garden list I was asked for details of the construction. Below is a diagram showing the major components and some explanatory photographs, but basically this is what you need. It isn’t as complex as it sounds:
- A pond (of course) the bigger the better as bigger means less of a problem with algae, but small works for birds too. What attracts them is the sound of moving water and somewhere to bathe.
- Using the soil dug out to make the pond create a hill at one end of your pond – a couple of feet high will suffice. At the top make a small pool some 8 inches to a foot deep.
- Line the header pool and the waterfall with stout pond lining fabric … you can get butyl rubber bonded to a felt-like membrane that is fabulous for attracting mosses and the like.
- Fill the header pool up to just below the water surface with lots of small river stones/pebbles plus a couple of larger ones sticking out for birds to perch on.
- In the main pond place a submersible pump – the more powerful the better, for an effective waterfall you need to be able to move lots of water. Run a pipe from this up to the header pool – the pipe should be at least 1.5 inches in diameter. In the header pool the outflow from the pipe MUST be at the bottom so the water rises before spilling over into the waterfall and returning to the main pond. The pebbles have two purposes – one is to give the birds something to stand on without having to swim and the other is unrelated to the birds … lots of pebbles create a huge surface area on which colonies of denitrifying bacteria will develop naturally; this will very effectively help to keep the algae population in your pond under control.
- Carefully install a flat stone or a slate to form the lip over which the water will spill into the waterfall. This must have a sharp edge for the spillway and be installed as close to perfectly horizontal as you can make it … I found that embedding it in the expandable foam from a spray can that you can buy from DIY stores made that quite easy.
- Check for leaks and anywhere water might escape – turn on the water and you are up and running. Having the header pool in the shade of small bushes and ferns make it less scary to birds.
- Sit back with your camera and wait for the birds to find your header pool, as they assuredly will.
** Meanwhile, the easiest way to know when this section has been added to is to follow our journal – just follow the link at the foot of the page.