May 28, 2010

Design for the birds

On this blog you've seen Joe Papendick's eclectic bird houses, courtesy of Lisa Boone of the Los Angeles Times L.A. at Home blog.  Today we bring you the Garden Maker: Bird Habitat by Branch.  Like its butterfly counterpart, the kit contains marking stakes and pencil, instructions, and eight types of seeds.  The latter are Amaranthus, Buckwheat, Calendula, Larkspur, Liatris, Mexican Hat, Salvia, and Sunflower, all "known to attract song birds."
Garden Maker: Bird Habitat image courtesy of Branch
Sunflower is recommended as a good source of seeds by the Celebrating Urban Birds project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. To attract songbirds and hummingbirds, it is important to provide "a steady supply of food year round" such as berries, seeds, and nectar. Be sure to read Celebrating Urban Bird's Urban Gardening for Birds and Urban Greening web pages to learn more about creating "little green places" for birds in the city.

If you provide habitat for birds, remember to design your habitat areas to prevent window strikes. Project Feederwatch, another Cornell Lab of Ornithology project, recommends "placing feeders less than 3 feet or more than 30 feet away from windows" or "stretching netting across the window with several inches of spaces between the net and the window." Other prevention strategies include "covering windows with a grid of strips that absorb and reflect ultraviolet light" and "placing decals or other objects with no more than 10cm of space between the objects." Read the entire article ("Windows can be a threat to birds at our feeders") here.

Designing for birds beyond cities is important, too.  Read about the effects of wind power infrastructure on non-migratory and migrating birds in the Autumn 2009 BirdScope newsletter.

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