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Question about setting up feeder(s), bath, and cover

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Old Saturday 19th February 2005, 05:19   #1
Bird_Boy
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Question about setting up feeder(s), bath, and cover

Hi all,

I'm trying to set-up a small backyard area to attract birds, preferrably Northern Cardinals, Nuthatches, and whatever else I can get.

My small backyard is basically barren....no shrubs or trees, except that a year or two ago I transplanted a couple of Japanese Maples from my dad's yard back there, but they are only around 6ft and the branches won't support birds hardly at all (IF at all). I was thinking of a hopper feeder, a bird bath, and maybe add some shrubs (closer to the house) and/or smaller growing evergreen(s) a little further from the house. I do want the birdfeeder and the birdbath relatively close to the house, so I can see the birds good.

Question 1: I would like to provide some sort of reasonably attractive perch thing that birds could use as a stopping off place before they hit the feeder (or bird bath), or while they wait to hit the either. Do they even make such a thing? If so, can someone give me a website where I could check out what type of options are available?

Question 2: Is lack of shade going to prevent me from drawing in the birds I'd like to attract (cardinals, nuthatches, etc.)? I think my options are pretty limited in the way of providing shade in the near future. Anyone have any suggestions for providing some shade that isn't an eyesore? My neighborhood has some moderately intrusive restrictive covenants and I don't want to draw the ire of neighbors anyway.

I got into birding via photography, and I love it. I have other places to go to photograph the birds, but it sure would be nice to attract a better variety around my own house. Any help is appreciated.
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Old Sunday 20th February 2005, 03:44   #2
alarson2
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Hi-

A barren back yard is not a place birds are going to want to go much. The forest is what they like. You have got to plant a garden and make it as much like a forest as you can to get the birds to want to come and be- and feel safe- in your yard. They want shelter- not so much shade. They want to know that in an instant, they can be hidden and safe. The ground feeders like tohees and sparrows will want to be able to dash out of sight into the azaleas or whatever if they get spooked. The doves want to fly straight up into the trees above for shelter. The cardinals will want to dive into the bushes when they dash off. Look at it this way- If you are going to be at your home for a while, start now planting and planning your sanctuary. Get an extension agent or landscaper in and tell them what you want- they will test your soil and make recommendations for what you can plant- PLANT, that is the key word here. You will have to build a place that they will love to come to- They will put it on their list of places to go if you do this for them.

I have my feeder out off my deck- about 3 meters from my window. The whole thing is under a market umbrella. The tray is 2'x4' and has out riggers on it so that waiting birds will have a place to perch while they wait their turn. I have a water dish out there and believe me- they use it.

It is and endless source of entertainment, fascination, and education watching the procession coming in and out of my feeder- I surely hope that you can enjoy the same pleasures in your yard too. If you would like, I will post pictures of what works for me here in Atlanta.

Good luck and please keep us posted as to your progress.

Alan

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Old Sunday 20th February 2005, 05:28   #3
Bird_Boy
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Thanks for the reply, alarson.

I realize that some planting is going to be part of the process. That's something I had mostly put off, but was planning on doing even before I became interested in birding. Honestly, there's so little space back there that my options are limited. I could provide a picture of the space I'm dealing with, if you would be interested. I'd surely like to see your setup.

I've spent some time trying to conceptualize a reasonable setup in my mind the last week or so, and what I have been thinking about is creating a sort of "island" in the middle of my small, essentially rectangular, space. In the island I could have a feeder on a pole, a small to medium size birdbath (on the house side of the feeder so I the bath view is unobstructed by the feeder), and then add some plants. I think I'd add one medium size shrub or evergreen plant that would maybe grow to 6-8 feet, and then some other plants that would be a little lower to the ground. I'd want to use pinestraw or mulch on the ground to set off the area of the "island" (realizing I'd have to add/replace it maybe several times a year), and maybe even some ornamental arrangement with bricking around the whole thing just at ground level or the average brick width above ground level.

I don't know if that makes any sense, but if you can picture a square/rectangle of grassy area with a circle (I wouldn't make it a perfect circle, not even close) in the middle with some plants, the feeder, and the birdbath, then you have the idea. Then I could add in some shrubs around the edge of the house/deck (which borders the area of yard i'm working with on two sides).

Anyway, would like to see your setup. I still have some thinking to do but I think I'd like to maybe setup a feeder and some water as soon as possible. I just hate starting any project when I don't have a firm handle on where I want to go with it!

Thanks again for the reply.
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Old Wednesday 23rd February 2005, 01:24   #4
Lady19thC
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The best thing to do is look around your yard, and try to see it through a bird's point of view! The maples are a great start...they will grow. When we moved here, we didn't have a single tree. Now we have 3 sugar maples, 5 bradford pears, 2 red maples, 6 blue spruce, holly, arborvitae, juniper, cotoneaster, salvia, barberry, coneflower, daylilies, lilacs...you get the picture! Many bird books will list the trees, bushes and flowers that grow best in your area, and attract birds. Just look in the birding section of your local bookstore. They often have pictures of sections of yards, which will help out in your planning. Draw some pictures and plan before buying. Spring is the best time to get things, because the ground is soft and it gives the plants all summer to establish themselves before winter. And try not to make it too neat. Birds like a wild feeling to their territory, not a perfectly manicured lawn. Let things go wild, let things drape a bit, allow the dying flowers to remain-birds will eat the seeds from the dried flower heads. Try to provide fruit-bearing plants-holly or crabapple, etc. I am doing the same thing, right now. I am starting to study through my books and pick out what I will plant this year, because we have this whole acre to fill up and makes woodsy! I plan to add some white pines, another sugar maple, some crabapples, forsythia, a trio of arborvitaes as a wind break and lots of flowers for the hummers. Good luck and have fun with it!
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