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Northwest Gardening: Attract Birds the Natural Way

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Mother Nature knows how to privide a nutritious buffet for our native birds. Here are some tips for encouraging avian visitors the natural way.

birdhouses
hanging plants

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.

huckleberry and filbert plants

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.

plants

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?