With a little planning, we don’t have to travel to experience nature.
Birds will readily come to our yards.
Enjoying songbirds can be as easy as setting out some seed, putting a chair on the porch and watching – and listening – for the colorful results.
But done improperly, feeding can be a detriment to birds.
Feeders must be cleaned regularly with soap and water to prevent spreading disease among your feathered friends. Water in bird baths should be changed every few days for the birds’ health and to prevent mosquitoes, which can infect birds – and people – with West Nile virus.
The healthiest way to lure and enjoy feathered friends is to create a bird-attracting landscape. Then merely supplement with bird food, such as black sunflower seed.
Plants feed birds with seeds, berries, nuts, sap, nectar and the bugs that crawl around them.
Provide the right shrubs and trees and birds will rest and nest in them. Knowledgeable nursery staffers should be able to help you create a haven for birds. (Get some ideas online at www.abnativeplants.com.)
Some people grow gardens for birds, with nectar-providing flowers for hummingbirds and sunflowers for seed eaters plus flowering crab apples and mountain ash for fruit-lovers such as cedar waxwings.
A dead tree that isn’t a hazard on your property can provide a smorgasbord and eventually a home for nuthatches and woodpeckers.
Create the features of a dead tree by putting up bird boxes of the proper dimensions for swallows, nuthatches, wrens and woodpeckers.
Then put out suet feeders and smear peanut butter and suet into the bark of a few trees to provide a natural feeding situation.
Audubon Society chapters regularly schedule birding education programs and carpools for bird-watching field trips. Check them out:
“Spokane Audubon: Gary Blevins, 533-3661; www.spokaneaudubon.org.
“Coeur d’Alene Audubon: Jan Severtson, (208) 667-6209; www.cdaaudubon.org.