Tuesday, September 5, 2017 By: Ask A Master Gardener

Attracting Birds into the Landscape

Attracting Birds to the Landscape
Tom Ingram: Ask a Master Gardener
Tuesday, September 5, 2017
Q: I love watching the birds. What can I do to help attract more birds to our yard? SM
A: Birds are not only beautiful and fun to watch, but they also help manage insect populations and maintain an ecological balance in outdoor environments. To attract birds, you are going to need three things: food, water and shelter.
Many plants are beautiful but not all provide a food source for birds. Filling the yard with plants that bear fruit or seeds are best for habitat development. Native plants are always a good option, as native birds are adapted to these plants that are often drought-, heat- and cold-tolerant, as well as proven bird attractors.
Vines on fences are also prime real estate for food, nesting and shelter. Clematis, honeysuckle and grapes would fit in this category.
A healthy lawn can also contribute to attracting birds, such as robins, mockingbirds and flickers, as they love to eat insects and worms.
You may want to consider supplemental feeding via a bird feeder, especially in bad winter weather. Just remember not to locate your feeder closer than 10 feet to shrubs and trees so birds have time to escape in times of danger.
A source for water is often overlooked but is nevertheless an important component in your bird sanctuary. When we think water for birds, we typically think birdbaths. However, a variety of water features or fountains may make for a more interesting water source. Whatever you choose, the water should not be more than two inches deep and have a clear area of 10 feet in diameter to prevent predators from sneaking up on your birds while they are enjoying the water. A rock in the water for standing is also a good idea. Be sure to wash your water feature every three or four days and disinfect with bleach once or twice a year.
Last but not least is shelter. Shelter can be provided in a variety of ways. A pile of broken branches or pruning clippings will attract cardinals, wrens, towhees and sparrows. Trees and shrubs with dense branches, leaves or perhaps thorns will also provide excellent shelter. In addition, birdhouses or nest boxes can be added to your landscape.
We have an excellent fact sheet with information on Landscaping and Gardening for Birds that is available on our website, tulsamastergardeners.org, or by contacting the Master Gardener office. Ask for fact sheet #HLA-6435.
Garden tips
·        In fall, strawberry plants build up food reserves and form fruit buds for the next year’s crop. They should be fertilized between mid-August and mid-September with a nitrogen fertilizer such as ammonium sulfate at a rate of 1.5 pounds per 100-foot row. Apply 1 inch of water if no rain is expected.
·        You have all of September to plant cool-season vegetables like spinach, leaf lettuce, mustard and radishes, and until the middle of September to plant rutabagas, Swiss chard, garlic and turnips.
·        The last nitrogen fertilizer application of the year on warm-season grasses should be applied no later than Sept. 15.


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