Bird Feeders with Roots

Plant these beautiful trees and shrubs for natural bird feeders in your backyard.

| August/September 2005

  • Bird Feeders
    Top Left: Rose-breasted grosbeak with red elderberry. Top Right: Baltimore oriole with serviceberry. Bottom Left: American robin with hawthorn berry. Bottom Right: Cedar waxwing with hawthorn berry.
    Photo courtesy MOTHER EARTH NEWS editors
  • Cedar waxwing
    A cedar waxwing eating berries from a serviceberry tree.
    Photo by Fotolia/Chris Hill

  • Bird Feeders
  • Cedar waxwing

Chances are, you’ve already taken backyard birds under your wing. You’ve put feeders out for them, and you keep those feeders stocked year-round with seeds and other treats. You conscientiously keep those feeders clean to prevent the spread of avian diseases. Maybe you even provide a source of fresh water for thirsty winged visitors.

Good for you. In all likelihood, your efforts have helped sustain the travels of countless feathered migrants, and also have helped foster a healthy bird population in your area. But there’s another sort of “feeder” that’s even more important to backyard birds. I’m talking about plants — a bird’s natural food source. Think of them as bird feeders with roots.

Food-bearing trees and shrubs provide birds with a varied and nutritious diet of nuts, berries and buds — the sustenance many birds rely on most. And because plants are home to insects and caterpillars, they serve as a sort of all-you-can-eat buffet for bird species that do not eat seeds. What’s more, trees and shrubs offer birds protection from predators and the environment; they serve as sites for rearing young; and, because they catch and hold rain and dew, they furnish drinking water.

You can do all this for birds merely by planting trees and shrubs in your yard that are both attractive to you and beneficial to them. Now’s the perfect time for planting — in most areas, late summer and early to mid-autumn generally bring sunny skies, pleasantly cool temperatures and rain in short but regular doses.

The Grand Plan

Whether you landscape your yard all at once or with just a few plants at a time, it makes sense to conceive some sort of overall design — if not on paper, at least in your mind. Consider your yard from a different perspective: from a bird’s-eye view. Planning a landscape becomes easier — and more fun — when one of your goals is to create an attractive environment for birds. Why? Because variety is the essence of good bird habitat. The greater the diversity of trees, shrubs and other vegetation, the more kinds of birds you’ll attract. As a bird-conscious landscaper, you can consider a wider range of trees and shrubs than you might otherwise contemplate.

On the other hand, not all the choices you’ll find at a nursery make good natural bird feeders. In fact, some of the most widely used yard trees and ornamental shrubs have the appeal of a 2-by-4 to passing birds. But many species that are beneficial to birds also are colorful and interesting to humans: flowering vines and hedges; lush, dense evergreens; plants bearing bright-hued berries. Add to that bright spectrum a healthy population of birds flitting to and fro, and your landscape literally comes alive.

5/25/2013 3:04:39 AM

Its a shame that the jpg  list of trees and shubs doesnt open or download...any suggestions?



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