With Spring coming more people than normal will begin to landscape their yard and for many gardening will become a lifelong love. Now God may care for the sparrow but so should we. There are a few things we can do to improve our backyard biodiversity and support ecology as good stewards of the land.
The first is obviously something that is a long game and that’s successional landscapes. That’s plenty trees and larger woody shrubs now so that others, including wildlife can benefit from them in a decade and even a century from now. There are a bunch of written and unwritten rules about this such as how close to road and power lines you can plant not to mention various HOA regulations to things of how it affects home insurance. You obviously want the write tree for the right spot. You don’t want a live oak 10 feet from your house. But native oaks come in many sizes. Running oaks are max out at just a few feet tall. It’s beneficial to plant from several genre and families. Again most of this is done by envisioning the gardens potential down the road.
A more immediate thing is to plant native plants. Outside of the issues with invasive plants pushing out natives and undermining ecological benefits. A big reason to plant natives is because they host native insects which means caterpillars. Even the chicks of songbirds get the majority of their nutrition and calories from vertebrates. Many chicks can eat up to 40+ caterpillars a day. So not using pesticides helps the birds. While selecting plants also consider plants with fruits, seed heads or flower heads that birds eat. Consider plants that are early spring bloomers or blooms throughout winter that birds can snack from.
You can also use bird feeders. When selecting bird food it’s important to consider your native birds or migratory birds. Different birds eat different foods. Tiny birds want tiny seeds and some birds, like blackbirds, really like dried fruit. Look for dried fruit marketed for birds. Even berries that maybe you bought and did not finish thst you just don’t want can go outside for birds. Keep bird feeders up high if possible and away from places predators like cats can hide and leap from. Pay attention to what they eat. Maybe only fill it half way to avoid waste or molding fruits. Hang up different types to feed a wider range of birds . If you can handle it mealworms can be beneficial as well. You can buy dried mealworms and soak them over night and spread them about in the morning in your garden on the ground or on bird tables.
Birdhouses are also beneficial. You can buy generalized ones but it’s often cheaper and a lot of fun to build them. Look up the native birds you want to invite to your yard and build a birdhouse to attract them. Some birds prefer taller birdhouses. Some birds want houses with multiple entries. Some want open birdhouses and some want enclosed ones. A owl for example will be attracted to a birdhouse that’s very different from a cardinal. Look up the designs they need and what types of trees and height they prefer. Making your own can also become a family activity. They can be painted on the outside but you don’t want to paint on the inside or use treated lumber. Use rot resistant wood and not toxic treated wood. Make sure the entry hole is the right size too. It can also be fun to spurge on things like outdoor cameras to spy on them. It’s also a great way to introduce others, including kids to birdwatching. From a porch or a bench outside.
Lastly water feature also obviously attracts wildlife.
Does anyone have any favorite bird species they want to attract to their yards? Anyone into building animal houses or bird watching? If there is a specific native species you are interested in you can potentially do these things to attract them to your yard.