Marin is fortunate to have multitudes of migrating and resident birds. Mild weather, myriad microclimates and diverse wooded vegetation attract a variety of winged friends that can be spotted and admired year-round. Birds are also beneficial for pollination, pest control and wildlife conservation. Here are ways to create an avian-friendly yard.
Look for Allen’s hummingbird, Nuttall’s woodpecker, wrens, California towhee, California quail and mourning doves.
Provide a source of fresh, clean water for birds to bathe in and drink from.
FIT THE BILL
Certain birds have a beak that needs a specific kind of feeder. Visit your local plant nursery and read feeder labels to determine which creatures you can attract. Clean your feeders occasionally to prevent possible disease from spreading from one bird to another.
Promote biodiversity by planting lots of different flowers and plants that bloom and go to seed at different times. Also let some seed heads dry on your flowers to provide winter food. Purple coneflower, sunflowers, California rose and California sage are popular with birds.
Protect winged creatures from prowling cats by placing feeders high off the ground. Also provide perches and roosts to help birds find safety or a place to rest.
GIVE A HOOT
Owl boxes can be an environmentally friendly way to control rodents. Consider purchasing one from Marin County’s The Hungry Owl Project.
Birds like to feel protected. Make sure your garden has some spots that are vegetated and not exposed.
Provide a variety of snacks to draw diverse birds. Research tastes: for example, goldfinches prefer thistle seed, most perching birds like black oil sunflower seeds and woodpeckers favor suet.
Not surprisingly, rodents and squirrels enjoy the same food that birds do, so get a feeder that has safeguards against intruders and place it out of their reach. Keep the area under feeders clean to discourage unwanted visitors.
This article originally appeared in Marin Magazine’s print edition with the headline: “Flight Plan”.