Birds on the Wing
Birds may be the most welcome harbingers of spring. Colorful to see, a delight to hear, birds lend grace and beauty to our surroundings and provide natural insect control. To make your residence or neighborhood an inviting sanctuary for birds, create places for them to nest, feed, drink, and wash. Here's some advice on birdhouses, feeders, and birdbaths:
- Birdhouses. If suitable natural nesting habitats such as old trees are in short supply, build or buy a birdhouse and install it out of reach of cats, squirrels, and other predators.
- Feeders. Commercial bird feeders are available in most hardware stores, but you can also make feeders out of plastic bottles or milk cartons that can be hung from safe places such as a clothesline. If you prefer to grow bird food, consider planting native wildflowers, shrubs, and sunflowers.
- Cultivated flowers also are especially attractive to some birds, particularly goldfinches, house finches, juncos, white-throated sparrows, and hummingbirds.
- Bird Baths. Birds are most comfortable with a rough-surfaced source of water about 2 feet wide, no more than 2 inches deep. A shallow dish or gently-sloping bowl placed right on the ground will do, as will a plastic or terra cotta plant dish or inverted metal trash lid. Put the bath out in the open, not close to shrubs or places where cats can hide. A thorny bush or protective brush pile may make the birds feel more secure.
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