July 19, 2020
My favorite thing, by far, on our little homestead, is the multitude of birds that have made this their home too. There is an immense variety of both color and song in every corner of our little plot of land. They fill our mornings with choirs of warbles and chirps that announce the new day, sing for a mate or warn others of impending danger. Nests, full of babies, trill with hunger and their hard working mothers pipe back that food is on the way. They bring joy and wonder as we watch their intricate little lives play out in front of us.
They are also excellent additions to our organic gardens. We have added (and continue to add) bird baths, water sources and feeders throughout the property to entice them. They help control harmful insects and since we don't use pesticides, this is a much appreciated contribution. Nesting birds that are feeding their young will consume thousands of insects. This includes those invaders we battle like aphids, Japanese beetles and grubs. Some species, like our hummingbirds, help pollinate our plants. Our sparrows and finches are great seed eaters and that includes weed seeds. And any animal that stops the spread of weeds, even slightly, is a much wanted guest. Owls and hawks play their part too by helping with rodent control. Even bird waste brings it's benefits to our soil, as it is a great fertilizer, being so rich in nitrogen and phosphorus.
I've had friends ask how to attract more birds to their gardens and there are many ways. Besides the typical feeders and baths, it is a excellent idea to leave small sections of your property wild. This is especially good if there are some thorny patches or a hollowed tree. Birds will naturally gravitate to the security those areas provide to build their homes. Discarded items, like dryer lint or brushed dog hair, tied in a bundle with wire and hung from a tree, will be of great use to wild birds. They happily pull out strands and line their nests with them. Planting some things just for the birds to eat is another wonderful way to keep them happy. We grew sunflowers that are only for our downy companions. We also left a few of our berry bushes, without protective netting, for them to enjoy. If you take the time to entice these fascinating animals, I promise the gifts they give in return are abundant.
I am proud of the natural habitat we are building for our feathered critters. And I am thankful for the lessons in observation and appreciation they teach. As we pay attention to these amazing creatures, the incredible ingenuity and beauty of mother nature, is demonstrated daily. Every nest from every species is different and each are intricate pieces of art. I never tire of watching them and I get excited as each clutch of eggs hatches, grows and tentatively leaves the nest and its mothers care. As a mom, myself, who is watching the last of my brood leave for college next month, I can identify with the trepidations of those winged mothers. So I will do as they do, trust their offspring's instincts and keep watch from afar. Just another little lesson nature has taught me.