The Birds Are Coming. Are You Ready?

| 3/4/2015 9:51:00 AM

Tags: birds, migration, backyard, YardMap, California, New York,

Barn Swallows 

Daylight saving time is only a few days away and spring is right around the corner. The chickadees have been calling hey sweetie since late January preparing for the coming nesting season, while many migrants are already heading north - grackles, blackbirds, robins and phoebes are some of the earliest to depart their winter territories. Of the approximately 650 species of birds that nest in North America, the vast majority are migrants. Thus, ready or not, the birds are coming.


Spring migration fills backyard enthusiasts with the greatest joy as they watch new arrivals scouting out the best places to forage, feed, rest, and nest. However, for the birds themselves, this is one of the most physically stressful times of the year. Birds are constantly battling unpredictable weather, predation, the energetic demands of molting to breeding plumage, and the unknown availability of food and water. As gardeners we have a vital role to play in supporting our avian migrants. Studies have found that yards, especially in urban and suburban areas, have a significant impact on the nesting success rate and abundance of birds.

The following are some ideas to help support birds in the early spring:

Delay Spring Cleanup Often the first migrants to arrive are seed eaters. They are looking for remnant seeds in trees, on dead flowers, and beneath the leaf litter around your garden beds. Leave your gardens messy until late spring to help provide optimal foraging conditions. Explore YardMap for more ideas on growing seed-producing flowers for birds.

3/13/2015 4:45:50 PM

The arriving birds will need lots and lots of insects to feed their babies. One way to make sure that baby bird food is available is to plant as many native plants as possible. They are the ones that feed the insects that feed the birds. There must be some nature centers and native plant nurseries in your area where you can get native plants. Also some websites such as The Xerces Society and the Pollinator Partnership have useful lists of native plants by ecoregion.

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