This Stuff is for the Birds

| 2/16/2016 10:02:00 AM

Robin tending to her nestlings

A fantastic side benefit of “going natural” is that the birds benefit greatly. By no longer mowing our lawn and continuing to add more garden beds, we are gifting our avian friends with food and shelter materials. Visit my Paradise pages to view parts of this transformation.

Many goldfinches visit our coneflower (added two years ago) during the temperate times of year. I watch juncos and other colder clime birds supping on the seeds of our leftover flowers and weeds during the winter. Our catbirds delight in the insects attracted by our garden during much of the year. Most of the birds nip off and gather our abundant long grasses for fashioning and adding to their nests when it’s time to rear their young.

In fact, long grasses are a favorite nesting material because they’re pliable, lightweight, and much of it is strong enough to last a season, or at least through one brood of nestlings. Because our long grasses are plentiful, the birds can continue to grab what is needed for continued nest maintenance throughout the season as they rear each batch of nestlings.

Most of us can find at least a little corner of our yard where we can let some grass grow out even if a more manicured yard is our goal. Just remember to keep it free of the ‘cides (pesticides, insecticides, herbicides…) and you’ll be doing a wonderful thing for your local feathered friends.

When I recently pruned my grapevine, I set aside some of the pieces for my own arting pursuits — most of it became fodder for the birds. I brought my vine clippings into the house, where the cats briefly displayed their toddler personalities by claiming the new toy that must be for them. I let the cats play a little and then cut these trimmings down to 4 to 6 inch pieces. They’re perfect for many of my outdoor winged friends to fashion nests—pliable, lightweight, and strong.

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