I haven't seen a noisy starling for years, and no rats, squirrels or neighborhood cats bother my birds or my garden.
So here's my confession: I don't buy birdseed and I don't have a bird feeder. Not even one for my extra-friendly hummingbirds. I've learned they prefer to sip from my fuchsias, nasturtiums and dragon-wing begonias instead of an artificial feeder.
I also attract birds to my garden by allowing some native plants, like huckleberry and filberts, with their golden dangling catkins, to grow in the landscape.
I leave the seed heads of rudbeckia and sedum 'Autumn Joy' to mature all winter, and I have a dead tree or "snag" in the yard that attracts woodpeckers and a small owl. Most important I plant a variety of plant material. If you ever need an excuse to keep buying more new plants, remember that birds prefer variety.
For happy birds and happy, laid-back gardening take five--five steps, that is:
1. Mix tall, low and medium-size plants in the landscape. This provides the most cover for the most variety of birds.
2. Don't be so tidy. Spent flowers make seeds--nature's way of feeding birds.
3. Dead trees make great homes and feeding stations for many birds. Consider bringing in a fallen tree or rotting log.
4. The sound of water always wins over birds over.
5. Native plants are nature's way--in the Northwest this means adding more salal, huckleberry and vine maples.
So what do you do to make the birds flock to your garden?