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Here in the Southeast, we see many varieties of birds, some living here and some just passing through. Perhaps you have had some experience in attracting birds with man-made feeders, baths, and birdhouses.
The addition of properly placed trees, shrubs, and plants can attract even more birds. Birds like a variety both in size and kind of planting. Variety in the plantings gives birds a choice of food—seeds, nuts, fruits, berries, flower nectar, etc.
Many birds catch insects, worms, and spiders that are attracted to plants. This is especially helpful with organic gardening since the birds become your natural pest control.
In this respect, here is a list of trees for your landscape: pine, oak, mulberry, blackgum, wild cherry and holly. Shrubs and vines are blackberry, elderberry, blueberry, Virginia creeper, grape, and wax myrtle. More varieties include pecans, crabapples, autumn olive, nandina, and pyracantha. Also, remember to add some junipers, cedars, and other evergreens to your landscape in which the birds can take shelter.
More ways of attracting birds
Install a birdbath with no more than 2-3 inches of water. Place it near bushes or shrubs where the birds can hide after they have bathed.
If you live in an area where the squirrels are abundant, try to obtain bird feeders that discourage marauding squirrels; however, you may need to spread a little seed or corn in a different area to encourage the squirrels to leave your feeders alone. In cold weather, once you begin to feed the birds, you must continue to do so; otherwise, they may starve before they can find another source of food. Use a variety of foods. A good mixture is five pounds of sunflower seed mixed thoroughly with 25 pounds of course chicken scratch feed. Chicken feed can be found at a local feed store.
Also, use beef suet for the insect-eating birds. To make suet seed cakes, melt the suet in a pan over low heat. Pour a seed mixture in a muffin pan so that each mold is about three-fourths full of seed. Then pour the melted suet over the seed in each muffin mold. Stir and let cool.
Just think of the enjoyment you will have when all the local birds come to visit. Perhaps with your diligent landscaping, you will also attract some migrants that you can add to your “bird life list.” Birds certainly add color to the landscape; even on the darkest and coldest winter day and bird watching can bring you hours of enjoyment.
Send your gardening questions or comments to: Brunswick County Master Gardener Column, P.O. Box 109, Bolivia, NC 28422, or call 253-2610. Enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope if requesting information or a reply. Answers may be printed in this column.
North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University commit themselves to positive action to secure equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, age, or disability. In addition, the two universities welcome all persons without regard to sexual orientation; North Carolina State University, North Carolina A&T State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture and local governments cooperating.