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How to Attract Birds With Trees and Shrubs
By simply adding the right trees and shrubs, you can turn your backyard into a bird kingdom. The right balance of foliage will create a bird-friendly habitat that is sure to attract your favorite birds. You will be proud to know that you are now the keeper of your own private bird-like sanctuary.
Native trees – With a little research, you can find out what trees are in your area. Native trees are more likely to provide the right combination of traits that native birds need. Planting non-invasive plants will help preserve their natural environment by attracting different species of birds. Trees are an essential part of bird survival, and the right trees can provide your native feathered friends with everything they need for food, shelter, and nesting. Plants can also provide water for birds because the leaves collect water that the little birds can drink. Many birds will actually rub on wet leaves to bathe and clean themselves.
Rootless trees – Non-native plants can also be a good choice, as they are not always invasive to native plants in the same area. Bare-root trees do not necessarily come from far away. They may come from neighboring areas, but from different ecosystems. For example, pine trees may not grow naturally in your local area, but they can still flourish in your desert yard with some loving care. And their root systems pose little threat to sidewalks and driveways.
location – If you look at nature, you will notice that trees usually grow next to each other in groups. This encourages cross-pollination and fertilization, which means more leaves, flowers and fruit for the birds to eat. It also means more shelter and nesting material. Planting large and small trees close together creates multiple layers and gives more bird species something to live on and multiply. Be careful when planting water hungry plants. Planting too many trees in close proximity can reduce water in the soil. Willow, eastern red cedar, bald cypress, and river birch are trees that can soak up large amounts of water each day.
Consider how the location of the tree will affect the surrounding areas of your home. Mulberry trees are a deciduous tree that robins, waxwings, and cardinals love to nest in, however, the fallen fruit is messy and can stain sidewalks. Silver maple roots are notorious for cracking driveways and sidewalks. Pine trees are always a great option, but once their branches start to interfere with power lines, they must be pruned back, not regrown. Eucalyptus trees (Australian migrants) grow widely in California and are a popular choice for wild parrots, but think twice about letting one grow too close to a pond – they are known to drop large heavy branches. Proper location planning will help you accurately account for maintenance issues such as overhead electrical wires, underground pipes, cement slabs, fences, and adjacent airspace.
Climate and Soil – When choosing plants for birds, it is important to consider your local climate. Extreme heat and cold will not suit plants that depend on moderate temperatures. Soil is also important to consider. Soil can be tested for pH and nutrient levels with test kits available at nurseries and home improvement stores. The texture of your soil is also important. There are three types of sand, silt and clay. Water-loving plants can suffer from sand, because water is not well maintained. On the other hand, clay can kill plants that need excellent drainage.
Careful consideration will make tree environments more efficient and provide birds with many options for their healthy-tree preferences. Consider two basic types of trees:
A broad-leaved tree that loses its leaves in winter but produces flowers and buds in spring. They are also capable of providing some stunning shades and colors in autumn. Many deciduous trees bear fruit. Leaf litter is also a great food source for ground-feeding birds in the fall, and it also provides nesting material in the spring.
An evergreen tree with stiff needle-like leaves that remain on the tree year-round, providing winter shelter for birds, especially in areas with heavy snowfall. Many birds will also eat the seeds of the cones of conifers. Birds get their food not only from the fruits of trees but also from their seeds, cones, blossoms and nectar. Choosing these types of food plants will give birds a reliable food source every season.
If you have a variety of shrubs around your home, many types of wild birds will become your lifelong friends. If your yard benefits from birds as well as bees and butterflies, you will have a greater appreciation for the environment. There are many shrubs that attract these animals, and fortunately, there are many choices you can make that include species that tolerate a variety of climates and soil conditions.
Bushes for food – There are many types of shrubs and small trees that attract birds to their fruits. Growing North American natives such as dogwoods, Carolina buckthorn, blueberries, hollies, mulberries, sumacs, blackberries, and viburnums will ensure that the favorite foods of local bird species are available. The flowers will also attract bees which will help the pollination process and maintain biodiversity. In windy weather, try to avoid planting shrubs and trees that cause allergic reactions. However, making the right choices can help the cross-pollination process help your entire ecosystem.
Shrubs for shelter – Although some birds build their nests in large trees, many species, such as the Eastern Bluebird and others, nest on bushes or legs 3 or 4 feet above the ground. Shrubs with dense canopies and many branches often prefer to nest on shrubs with open spaces between their branches. Heavenly bamboo (not true bamboo) is a beautiful evergreen with dense and finely toothed foliage. Hollies are also useful as nesting shrubs due to their spiny leaves, which act as a deterrent to predators.
If you rely on a local nursery or garden center, choose one that is reputable with a wide selection of vibrant plants and a knowledgeable staff. A skilled horticulturist should be particularly familiar with his/her own expertise in plant selections and cultural practices useful to help plan your bird sanctuary. Ask them to help specifically with plant selection, plant identification, plant problem diagnosis, and bird preferences with certain plant species.
Creepers and Creepers – These provide further foliage and take up little space. They can add beauty and character to a plain stone wall, fence or divider. If you’re a hummingbird fan, plant different species of honeysuckle. Brightly colored flowers will attract different species of hummingbirds.
Organic landscapes and gardens involve treating shrubs, vegetable plants, trees and soil without the use of chemicals. Knowing what goes into organic landscaping helps you, your neighbors, and wildlife. The absence of toxic chemicals allows green foliage as well as birds to thrive and become healthy by maintaining land and water tables in their natural state. Try making your own compost.. it’s cheaper than manure and works great.
Some honest time and effort will pay off big for everyone. Your hard work and dedication will pay off in a yard with the right tree and shrub plans. This benefits not only you but the wildlife and your neighbors while making bird photography and bird watching opportunities more abundant. Your landscape will also have long-lasting resources that will benefit future generations by helping Mother Nature sustain itself and evolve.
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