Creating a Well-Stocked Bird Garden
The first step in designing a bird garden is to evaluate your yard from a bird’s perspective. Does it provide the basic necessities – food, water, shelter – that birds need to survive? If not, which are lacking? If there’s a shortage of food, consider planting some fruit-bearing trees or shrubs. Plants that hold their fruits through the winter provide a vital food source for non-migratory birds. Add variety to the kinds of food you offer, and you’ll attract a wider variety of bird species.
A good water source will draw birds like a magnet. Even just a common birdbath purchased at a garden supply shop will do. Some people hang a plastic bottle or jug of water with a hole in the bottom over their birdbath. The motion and sound of the dripping water is irresistible to many birds.
Does your yard have an area of dense thickets that birds could use for nesting, secluded perching, or escape cover? If not, then plant some shrubs or make a hedge. Consider growing some vines up the side of your house or along your fence. Try to create lush, wild growth in a few places to simulate natural environment.
You should be able to find some excellent plants for your garden in a nursery-either local or mail order. (If you buy from an out-of-state nursery, however be sure that the plants you purchase will be hardy in your region.)
When you’re designing your yard, consider how large each plant will be when it matures. Remember that a lovely little tree that you plant today may become a giant behemoth that hogs your entire yard in a few years. So, shop wisely and avoid making a costly error.
Leave dead limbs and even entire dead trees where they are (unless they’re dangerous to people or property). The insects tunneling under the bark are an important food source for birds such as chickadees, woodpeckers and nuthatches.
Furthermore, old hollow trees are becoming increasingly scarce and cavity-nesting birds such as bluebirds and woodpeckers are having a difficult time finding nesting sites. A dead tree can look attractive in a garden particularly if it has ivy growing up its trunk.
Use dead branches that fall from your trees to start a brush pile. It will afford protection to the birds from harsh weather and predators. To start a brush pile, lay down some thick branches about two feet deep, then add some thinner branches on top. Over that, add some thin conifer branches.
Before you start planting, design your bird garden on paper. Draw up your property, showing your house and all existing plantings.
Go Easy with those Bird Feeders!
They can spell d-a-n-g-e-r to a bird!
One of the quickest ways to attract birds to your yard is by placing well-maintained bird feeders around your yard. Bird feeders, however, also attract local cats, hawks and falcons. Before setting up a bird feeder consider whether there are “escape” shrubs and hiding places near the feeder. Make sure there is an unobstructed view around the feeders to dining birds can see a stalking cat approaching the feeder. And, please, clean those feeders daily. Birdfeeders can be a source of many avian diseases passed through seed hulls and bird droppings!
Building Your Butterfly Garden
Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo staff know that the best way to save endangered species is to save their homes. Habitat preservation; providing clean water, safe cover, and the territory animals need to find their own particular kind of nourishment, are all critical elements in saving the wild creatures of the world. Everyone can help Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo in saving wild species, starting right in their own backyard.
Butterflies are a colorful signal of a healthy backyard. By planting a butterfly garden in your yard you provide an environmentally friendly habitat for these colorful creatures and other important wildlife species, such as salamanders, frogs, toads, hummingbirds and native songbirds. Remember, when you maintain a safe home for wild creatures, everyone benefits. Children can learn so many valuable lessons from nature, you can enjoy the relaxing sight of butterflies alighting in your garden and everyone needs a clean, green and serene planet!
What Butterflies Need
Butterflies like sunny places, protected from the wind. They enjoy drinking from a damp, muddy spot or very shallow pool. In order to keep warm, butterflies like to bask in the sun, preferably on a large, flat stone you can set out for them. And of course, butterflies love flowers! Flowers provide the insects with nectar, their main source of nourishment. When it comes to flower preferences, butterflies seem most attracted to purple, yellow and orange colored flowers and the more flowers, the better. If you add some tall red and pink flowers to the mix like trumpet vine and torch lily, hummingbirds may also visit your garden with regularity. Be sure to place a shallow raised birdbath in your garden for your feathered guests. Helpful amphibians will enjoy the middy spot you create for thirsty butterflies. And don’t forget that all butterflies begin life as caterpillars that have their own special needs. We’ve provided two lists for you to help provide food for butterflies throughout their life cycle. Plant your garden and know that you’ve created a very special place for wildlife!
* Bees (Hymenoptera)
* Butterflies (Lepidoptera))
* Moths (Lepidoptera))
* Flies (Diptera)
* Beetles (Coleoptera), (Cleridae)
* Jewel Beetles (Buprestidae)
* Anthicidae, some Scarabaeidae.
* Wasps (Hymenoptera)
These are the good guys which protect your garden against the pests.
* Earwigs (Dermaptera)
* Praying mantis (Mantodea)
* Green lacewings (Neuroptera)
* Ground beetles (Coleoptera)
* Ladybug/ladybird beetles (Coleoptera)
* True Wasps (Hymenoptera)
* Lacewings (Neuroptera)
* Dragonflies (Odonata)
A garden without bugs is like a city without people. Gardens are like a private zoo or nature reserve. You can see a thriving array of wildlife! For example, millions of organisms live in harmony most of the time. Not all of them are nasty bugs or dangerous enemies. But when we have the wrong combination of plants which attract various bugs, then our plants get eaten by too many of the little critters!
If you look at your garden like an eco-system, a whole world opens up before your eyes. When you look at your vegetable garden, you have to realize it will attract pests. Either you can control this with pesticide, which may damage your garden in the future – or you can use a biological control. For example, if you plant lettuce then you should plant marigold or daisies around the vegetable so that they counteract any pests attracted by the lettuce.
In general, there is not a home gardener who needs to use herbicides. It is easier to dig up a few weeds than to spray them and risk damaging other plants, and damaging your own health, the health of your children and your pets. If you do use pesticides, look at the label for the most eco-safe ones you can find. Then use them sparingly and only according to their printed directions.
Do your own Biological Control!
You can collect the good predator insects on your walking trips and put them to work in your garden. For example, cut a piece of plant with ladybug or larvae ladybugs with aphids, and put them into a jar. Do not expose the bottle to heat or to sun; it is best to keep them covered, perhaps under a towel. At home, carefully transfer these good predator insects onto your infested plants. You can also use diatomaceous earth around your garden and it will control many types of harmful insects, snails and slugs. Look at other organic gardening websites for eco-friendly ways to a successful garden.
Many insects in their childhood or larval stage live in the soil and change rotting plant and compost into humus. They are everywhere in your garden, if you don’t use pesticides. Often people confuse earthworms in this category. But earthworms are not an insect or an insect larvae. They belong to a group of animals called annelids, the ringed or segmented worms. But earthworms are certainly great soil-builders and every gardener’s friend, but pesticides can send them fleeing to your neighbor’s garden if you’re not careful!