Happy National Bird-Feeding Month!
My green thumb gets very antsy during the winter while we wait for the snow to melt so we can get back to the garden! Fortunately, the birds outside provide abundant entertainment while preparing the frozen soil and plants for me. Go, birds, go! Make the garden grow!
More than two dozen birdhouses, bird feeders, and bird baths dot our garden, providing homes and nourishment for all manner of feathered friends. We love to watch the nuthatches swoop down to our bird feeders and to observe the Western Yellow Finches change color as the year progresses. The quail are my favorite, and they are most entertaining in the winter as they putter through the snow in their single file lines. We can see their nesting area, their child-rearing area, their paths to the favorite food and hiding place areas. Their feathers have recently starting to develop distinct color contrasts, a sign that spring might be on the horizon (we hope!).
So, why do we have so many birdhouses, you may ask? Aside from the delightful entertainment that the birds offer, they are also hard workers in the garden. Some of the perks of inviting feathered friends into your garden include:
Pest Control - Birds love to peck at the bugs and critters that want nothing more than to destroy your hard work in the garden (80% of a bird's diet consists of bugs!). This cuts down on the need to use pesticides that can be harmful to edible plans and to local wildlife.
Weed Management - Who has time for weeding?! The birds, that's who! Again, their help in this endeavor means that you can spend more time on landscaping and plant care, and also vastly reduces the need for chemical weed killers.
Pollination - Many birds love to sip plant nectar. Hummingbirds are one of my all-time favorite birds and we get a LOT of them. While I do provide some 'artificial' temptation in the way of special hummingbird feeders, they have also taken to the natural banquet of our garden.
Needless to say, the birds help our garden stay green, in the literal sense, and in the sense of maintaining eco-friendly gardening practices. And while I may be itching to get back to the soil myself, I am contented for now to sit back in my comfy armchair with a cup of coffee, and watch our twittering neighbors enjoy the cozy love nests we have built for them.
Above: Snow-covered birdhouses in our gardens. On River's Edge is recognized as a National Wildlife Backyard Habitat, a designation which requires that we provide the four essential ingredients to nurture local wildlife: food, shelter to raise their young, cover from predators, and water.