Friday, February 23, 2007

Birds will come ... an urban habitat garden.

When first beginning to garden the only birds I seemed to see were blackbirds, sparrows and maybe a robin or two.
That has changed dramatically over the years as I have learned to feed the birds.
Not with a typical bird feeder but through the garden itself.
Seeds, berries, nectar, insects and even small mammals draw quite a diverse population of bird species to our Chicago garden.

A small brown creeper seeming to run wildly back and forth over tree bark until it reaches the top, then dropping straight back to the ground to start the climb all over again, is searching for insects under the loose bark.
The thrush running in and out from under shrubs picking through leaf litter is also looking for a meal.
We never deadhead so as to leave plenty of seed, for the American Goldfinch that sings so loud to its mate while stuffing in a load for the babies back at the nest and the Mourning doves which forage the seed on bare ground after it falls.
A flicker chases ants,Hummingbirds sip nectar from flowering vines,Robins eat worms and the berries from Red twig dogwood and blackberries.
American kestral sit high on a tower looking down over the garden and a sharp shinned hawk watches from the tallest tree for a chance to nab a young mourning dove or baby rabbit.
Food is plentiful in this wildlife habitat garden.

Living within the migration flight path of millions of birds along Lake Michigan makes for a huge number of species that might be coaxed into stopping. I have seen many at parks and beaches, woods and ponds that have never ventured into my own backyard.But so many have visited and some stay awhile.

The mature trees [very tall with branches spread wide] a few needle type evergreens, a thorny tangle of brambles, ground covers and organic mulches, even a wood pile, gives the birds options. They forage food, build nest to raise young, shelter from wind and storms and hide from predators.
Water in a small shallow pond, a bird bath, a saucer on the ground here and there provide various depths,access and surface texture.
Different birds have differing needs.

Birds make up the most visible wildlife in the garden if you spend time looking.They pay their own way by keeping insect populations under control and singing with abandon.
Only the mourning doves leave behind enough evidence of their presence to be annoying.Many a morning is spent power washing every surface under the trees and placement of seating to avoid splatter is an ongoing concern. Thankfully no big pigeons have been drawn in, maybe fearing the hawks.

Here is a list of birds I have seen in my own backyard over the years...
Wrens,Junco,rose breasted grosbeak,rufous sided towhee,brown thrasher,mourning doves,robins,cardinals,brown creeper,common yellow throat, ruby crowned kinglet,common flicker,Hairy,downy,and red headed woodpeckers,American Goldfinch,indigo bunting,hummingbird,ovenbird,hermit thrush,white throated sparrow,white crowned sparrow,chipping sparrow,house sparrow,lark bunting,house finch,common nighthawk,Blue Jays,grey catbirds,chimmney swift,sharp shinned hawk,American kestral,and assorted unidentified warblers.

There are many reasons to spend time in the garden...


Blogger Henry Walloon said...

'Enjoyed the posting. Great to see someone else taking an interest in the wildlife in their garden.

24/2/07 12:02 PM  
Blogger tai haku said...

An excellent post that really sums up the garden ecosystem. A lot of people will kind of freak out about raptors moving in and taking their cute rabbits, squirrels, finches and the like but I always think regular visitation shows a suburban garden has matured to the highest level.

Found you through GardenRant and will be adding you to my blogroll and returning regularly

25/2/07 8:33 PM  
Blogger Gloria said...

Henry Walloon and tai haku what a pleasure to have been led to your blog sites. I will be reading and looking at your great pictures. Your comments are so welcome.

26/2/07 10:30 PM  
Blogger Carol said...

Just wanted to pass by to let you know I got your comment about having a post for the garden bloggers book club later this evening or in the morning. I'll check before I publish to see if you have post. If not, I'll be happy to go back and add you later at any time.

28/2/07 5:28 PM  
Anonymous Ellis Hollow said...

Hi Gloria. Just stumbled in via your comment to Bliss's post about visiting Piet Oudolf's nursery. Loved your album of the Lurie Gardens. I was at a meeting a few blocks away just weeks after it was planted. Nice to see it has filled in.

I'm about to do a post about Oudolf. OK if I embed one of your images into the post? Stop by my blog or just email me:

I'm also curious: Any signs of wildlife in Lurie?

28/2/07 7:59 PM  
Blogger firefly said...

Really impressive array of species visiting you, Gloria. Some of the birds I was used to seeing last winter haven't been around much this year, like juncoes and titmice, and I miss them. I'm really looking forward to the time when the shrubs and perennials I planted last summer are mature enough to bear berries and seeds.

Art and Linda's Wildflowers site has photos of the most interesting setups for bird baths, combining shallow terracotta dishes and tree stumps, that I am really tempted to try and copy for the yard this summer. I definitely need more than one birdbath around.

1/3/07 1:39 PM  
Blogger Yolanda Elizabet said...

I had the same experience. By feeding the birds more and more came in a wide array of species.

My garden offers a lot of attractions to birds; seedheads, berries, water, worms, slugs, aphids etc. And of course, tall trees to escape to. I grow sunflowers just for the birds. Birds are the gardener's friend!

BTW Enjoyed your album of the Lurie garden very much.What a special place that is.

2/3/07 11:58 AM  
Blogger Gloria said...

firefly, I have seen a few ideas on that site myself.I like the way they are spreading wildlife gardens around the Chicago area.

The numbers of Junco vary from year to year here and even time of winter that they are most prevalent. The bluejays and starlings pretty much disappeared here after many were found dead of West Nile,starlings are returning but the bluejays are still rare.
Some of the flying insects have decreased in number since the spraying for mosquitoes began again. It had been years since generalized spraying was performed but West Nile scared everyone.

Yolanda, hello.Always glad to meet another gardener that keeps the earth's fellow inhabitants in mind.
Yes the Lurie is a special garden full of interesting plants and plenty of wildlife. I suggest anyone visiting Chicago would enjoy a stroll through.I will be adding quite a few pictures of the spring bulbs emerging so check out the site again later this year.

3/3/07 11:42 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home