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Enjoying Birds In Your Yard & Garden

Our feathered friends can really add something special to a garden or yard. What could be prettier than a little bird splashing around in a birdbath, surrounded by leafy green plants and bright flowers? Some of them can help those beautiful flowers pollinate, they keep the bug population to a minimum, and they are just fun to watch as they feed, bathe, and interact with other birds. Check out these books and products to help you enjoy your backyards feathered friends.

 

Birds 101
Certain plants attract certain species of birds; 'Attracting Birds to Your Backyard: 536 Ways to Turn Your Yard and Garden into a Haven for Your Favorite Birds' can help you plant your garden to attract the type of birds you want hanging out in your yard. For beginning or seasoned gardeners, you can read about the top plants that attract birds, a brief summary of over 50 common species of birds, and other special feeding tips for the winter months.

Though 'The Backyard Bird Feeder's Bible: The A-To-Z Guide to Feeders, Seed Mixes, Projects, and Treats (Rodale Organic Gardening Book)' follows a similar vein, it goes into more factual information about the different kids of birds you’re likely to attract. This book also offers in depth lists of the various plants, fruits, vegetable, flowers, berries, and seeds that each bird favors. If you are more interested in the personal touch, you can try one of the easy recipes, like blueberry bird granola or mockingbird manna, to tempt your guests. The tips on observing your backyard visitors are ideal for the novice birdwatcher, and also include hints on how to capture them in photographs. Each species profiled in the book gets its own full color photo to help make identification easy.

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If you prefer video to just books, the two volume documentary, 'Attracting Birds Vol. 1' and 'Attracting Birds Vol. 2' offer a more visual explanation for adding the appropriate plants and accessories to your garden. Also in the multi-media family are comprehensive CD-ROMs full of images, facts, and other helpful information about the many 'Birds of the World'.

For more than just scientific facts, '100 Birds and How They Got Their Names' offers that information, plus mythological and folkloric references, as well as the origin of the scientific name, clarification on the original Latin terminology, and -- if known -- who selected the name and why or for whom the bird was named. Though this book doesn’t get in-depth about the migratory habits or feeding preferences of the 100 birds, it is a fun and interesting book to keep along side all those “serious” bird books.

Covert Observation
Once you’re attracting the kinds of birds you want, you may be interested in some covert observing. The 'Bushnell Powerview 16x32 Folding Roof Prism Compact Binoculars' are best if used for distances less than 20 yards, making them ideal for simple backyard observing. And try to stay out of sight as much as possible to avoid scaring them off.

If you’ve decided to observe birds out in the wild, away from the smaller confines of your backyard, then you’ll need something more powerful. Many optical companies make binoculars specifically for bird watching. The 'Tasco 7x42mm Rare Bird Binocular' are better suited for this kind of long-distance viewing.

Once you’ve moved from your backyard, a more comprehensive guide, like the 'The Sibley Guide to Birds' is helpful. With over 800 species and 6600 illustrations, plus very in-depth information -- including geographic, seasonal, and sex variations for each species listed -- this book is definitely aimed at the more experienced bird watcher.

Additional Attractions
Once you have their attention, you’ll want to keep them in your yard for as long as possible. Besides adding flowers and shrubs to your yard, try some additional bird-friendly accessories. Since not all birds are nectar eaters, try hanging a couple of seed feeders, like the 'Opus 7101 Top Flight Copper Tube Feeder', on well-protected trees around your yard. It’s sometimes tough to keep the squirrels out, but it can be done. Various designs make it difficult for the squirrels to gain access to the seeds in the feeder. However, if the birds are messy – and they usually are – seed will fall to the ground. This messiness not only attracts the squirrels, but can add a lovely variety of weeds come Spring.

During the hot summer months, nothing attracts birds like a fresh, cool birdbath. The 'Schrodt Designs MBB-12P 12" Misty Bird Bath, Plum' adds an unobtrusive, attractive addition to your yard. And because the fresh water travels from the faucet to the bowl, the spread of bacteria is greatly reduced. Its small, 12-inch bowl will only accommodate a few birds at a time, but they will love the gentle misting spray.

To keep the birds in your yard year round, try installing a birdhouse (or two). Certain styles attract certain species, so be sure you get a house that the birds in your area will like. The 'Schrodt Designs NBS Nesting Box' is a simple house that typically attracts chickadees, wrens, and nuthatches. It can be mounted on a wall or hung freely, letting you adjust the house to suit your yard. The 'S & K PBH-12 12-Family Martin House' gives large “families” of nesting purple martins privacy and shelter. It snaps together easily and without need for any tools. This house is designed for use with the 'S & K TTP-15-4 Quad-Tel Pole', and can be situated in your yard for easy observation.

For a fun project, kids can easily construct their own birdhouse with the 'Hd Wood Bird House Motel'. All the pieces are pre-cut and, though it does require the use of some simple tools, they’re included in the kit. Once the house is put together, it can be painted –though paint is not included – in any manner the kids see fit. They can then find that perfect spot in the yard and watch as a bird makes a happy home in their creation.

Flying Jewels
Hummingbirds are attracted to bright colored flowers that give them easy access to nectar. Since different plants thrive in different regions, consult 'Creating a Hummingbird Garden: A Guide to Attracting and Identifying Hummingbird Visitors' or 'Attracting Hummingbirds and Butterflies to Your Backyard : Watch Your Garden Come Alive With Beauty on the Wing' for the appropriate species for your garden. Once they bloom, your garden could become the next dining hot spot for hummingbirds.

Just because they are small, doesn’t mean they aren’t fiercely territorial. Humming birds will protect a known nectar source rather aggressively, especially during the migratory season. Therefore, to keep one bird from dominating your yard, hang several feeders, like the 'Parasol DDDRR Dew Drop Deluxe Ruby Red Hummingbird Feeder' and 'Schrodt Designs HBL-HPR Hummingbird Paradise Lantern Feeder, Red', around your yard out of sight of each other. Hummingbirds like bright colors in general, but they seem especially drawn to red. If you don’t have (or can’t find) a red hummingbird feeder, try hanging a red ribbon on or near it to attract them. Even if you have a red feeder, the waving ribbon will only enhance the attraction.

To keep these small jewels in your yard even longer, put a water mister, like the 'Rain Bird SK-HB-SWM Hummingbird and Sunflower Flower Garden Stake Mister', near plants that have broad leaves. If the plants offer a shady, protected refuge, the cool, misted leaves will soon become more popular than a community swimming pool in July.

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