Guest Post by By Jenn Stumer
All over the Lehigh Valley and beyond is evidence of our determination to populate undeveloped farm area. Recent demands for new developments and housing are eating up areas of natural habitats for birds (not to mention other wildlife.) Here are some basic tips on how you can help these winged creatures find alternate havens in which to nest, mate and raise babies.
1. Recreate natural settings - Some of you won’t have to go out of your way to create a natural setting. If you already have a landscape or even a few shrubs or trees, you are on your way and probably attracting birds already. Sometimes planting a specific shrub or tree or adding plantings to your landscape will make it more appealing to birds. Plants can be installed in groupings to make it more natural for them, and creating a landscape that has different height plants and seasonal blooming/fruiting times is an ideal attraction. (Keep in mind that plant additions to your landscape could enhance the look of your landscape.)
2. Provide food and water - Birds require a food supply but this doesn’t necessarily mean you have to put bird feeders up all over your yard. Of course a bird feeder is a good idea, but birds eat other things besides “over-the-counter” bird seed mixes. They love berries and nectar and there are many shrubs and trees that will provide these. A birdbath is a good idea for a water source if there isn’t a natural one on your property. Adding a ground-level water feature or a small pond is great, but not in everyone’s budget and landscape design.
3. Include small havens and shelters - If you make sure your landscape has small havens and shelters, the birds will most likely stay to raise their babies. Birds will build nests in trees, hedges, and shrub groupings. They will also look for hiding places such as a rock pile or a brush pile. This is important because they will need somewhere to go to hide from predators. You can create these settings on your property. You can also set up birdhouses for them.
Of course there are habitats you can recreate and plants you can install to attract specific birds to your landscape. More in-depth research would need to be done on the bird to find out what you need to do. However, here are a few examples of trees and shrubs you can add to your landscape that bear fruit, berries or nectar and that the birds can use for building nests too:
Trees: Birch, Hickory, Ash, Sweet Gum, Oak, Dogwood, Crabapple, Hornbeam, Hollies, Pines, Spruces, Hemlock, Red Cedar
Shrubs: Serviceberry, Viburnum, Barberry, Beautyberry, Bayberry, Honeysuckle, Blueberry, Raspberry, Witch Hazel, Yew, Azalea, Holly, Cotoneaster
These three basic requirements remain true for most native birds in the Lehigh Valley. With persistence and a little bit of work, you can provide a safe haven and a more natural habitat for our winged friends.