Our ability to feed ourselves, find water, breathe oxygen, is dependent on a bio-diverse environment. The bio-diversity of our planet is declining at an alarming rate due to habitat loss. Human activity is the main reason behind this loss, which is actually good news, because this puts us in a position to do something about it.
Our suburban home gardens are part of an integrated ecological system that either supports bio-diverse habitats that contribute to a healthier, more life sustaining planet or degrades and accelerates its decline. In other words the decisions you make about your home garden has consequences.
Here are some of the gardening practices and landscape design considerations you can adhere to in order to support more bio-diversity and expand a more hospitable habitat for all life on this planet.
Design your garden to be hospitable to birds, pollinators and beneficial insect populations by selecting plants that attract and support them.
Incorporate plants native to the area to better support native species of wildlife that are dependent on these plants for their survival.
Add water to your garden, either through the use of a birdbath, a fountain, a rain garden or a watergarden.
Limit the use of pesticides in the garden by attracting more beneficial insects
Dill, parsley, carrots, chives, basil, and onions are some of the plants you can use in your vegetable garden to repel harmful pests without the use of pesticides.
Planting poly-cultural vegetable and flower gardens is an effective way of controlling outbreaks of harmful fungus diseases and destructive insect populations.
If pesticide use becomes absolutely necessary opt for those that are the least harmful to beneficial insect populations, pollinators, and wildlife. Insecticidal soaps and horticultural oils are far less damaging to the health of the environment.
Birds seek out yards that offer food, water and cover, and they thrive in those that offer safety from harmful pesticides, chemicals, predators and other dangers in our human-dominated world.
With freezing weather, limited natural food sources, and migration, feeding will save birds’ lives. Most birds that visit backyards in snowy weather thrive on seeds, since insects and fruit are harder to find naturally during the winter. The best foods to offer birds in colder weather have a high fat or oil content that will provide abundant energy for winter survival. Giordano’s carries what birds like most:
While easy birdfeeders such as hopper and platform designs are always popular, the feeders you use during the winter should have several characteristics in common.
Cover: Feeders will be most useful in the winter if they have a wide cover over feeding ports, perches and dispensing trays so seed is not buried during snowfalls or storms. Fly-through platform feeders are especially good designs for winter bird feeding. The cover should extend several inches over the edge of the feeder to ensure protection from all but the most serious storms.
Placement: Ideally, winter birdfeeders should be placed in sheltered locations out of the most severe winds. Placing feeders closer to the house will be effective and will help keep the birds visible for indoor birdwatching. At the same time, feeders should be placed near protective cover such as hedges or a brush pile to offer birds safety from predators. To minimize window collisions, place feeders no more than five feet away from a wall or window, and use window clings or other techniques to prevent collisions.
Capacity: For birders’ convenience, large capacity feeders are preferred for winter feeding because they do not need to be refilled as frequently. This is only viable, however, if the seed is protected from moisture, otherwise it may grow mold before it is consumed. Covered feeders with large capacities are suitable, but platform feeders should be emptied and refilled daily to prevent mildew and spoilage.
More Winter Feeding Tips for Birds
Clean off feeders, platforms and perches after each storm so seed is easily accessible.
Leave fruit and berries on trees, hedges and bushes to provide a natural source of food throughout the winter.
Add a heated birdbath to your backyard or place a safe heating element in a regular birdbath to provide birds with liquid water.
Stamp or shovel snow around feeders to provide easier access to spilled seed for ground feeding birds.
Leave nesting boxes and birdhouses up all year round to provide winter roosting sites.
With care and consideration, backyard birding can be an exhilarating hobby throughout the winter, with birdsong and backyard visits to brighten the coldest, darkest days of the season.