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Create a Bird Your Own Backyard
By Bill Askenburg

Looking through my kitchen window into my backyard,I anxiously watch the
last patch of snow slowly shrink day by day.  

With spring, I welcome the return of a few of my favorite neighbors - Red,
Black cap and Goldie.  Spring has finally found New England, and so have the

Our Mourning Doves are back, carefully rummaging through the seed spilled
on the ground by our wily gray squirrels.  The cardinals are not hard to spot,
as the male is ablaze with his showy red coat.  And finally, I see my favorite-
feathered friend, the Goldfinch, searching for thistle.  His breast is just
beginning to show the bright yellow colors that make him the jewel of the

Backyard birding has become a welcome addition to my life, since moving to
New England.  The great thing about it is that anyone can invite birds to their
yard, regardless of where they live, or how large or small their property is.
And with the abundance of different species of birds in New England, most
people who start to feed the wild birds quickly find themselves hooked.

For those of you who have not yet introduced yourselves to the
joy of
backyard birding let me assure you it is one activity that requires very little,
but yields a great return.  With just a bag of seed and two shallow containers,
you can fill your backyard with life and activity.  To maximize your backyard
birding opportunities, take into account that birds need the basics – food,
water, safety and shelter.  

I provide a few varieties of food in my backyard, which in turn attracts
different species of birds.  Thistle seed attracts finches and chickadees.  A nut
and berry mix attracts woodpeckers and a sunflower/safflower mix attracts
cardinals, wrens, doves and blue jays.  Each of these food types requires a
different feeder, but most cost less than $10.  Place your feeders in a variety of
locations, such as at ground level, eye level, suspended in a tree or mounted
on a pole.  Be sure to place it in a near a window where you can view your
daily visitors.

Another way to draw birds into your yard is by enticing them with water.  The
easiest and least expensive way to provide water for birds is in a birdbath.
Make sure that the water is clean and changed frequently.  However, the
optimal water source for birds is a
water fountain, with water circulating via an
electric pump into several multi-level containers.  Make sure that there are
sufficient shallow areas, no more than one or two inches deep.  The sound and
motion of water is hard for birds to resist, and will entice them to drink and

The next thing to consider is shelter and safety.  The natural vegetation in your
yard will provide protection from predators.  I will also offer nesting areas and
materials, as well as in some cases food.    Ideally, a backyard bird habitat has a
large variety of plants including ground cover, shrubs and trees.  This variety
of cover will create a comfortable environment for many different species of

I also like to provide a variety of houses for the birds.  These are basically
substitutes for
natural cavities in trees and rocks. Houses range in size from
very large, multi-chamber homes, to very small, single-chamber houses.  When
choosing a birdhouse, make sure that features include ventilation and drainage
holes for the nesting box, a removable panel for seasonal cleaning and is
constructed of “bird friendly” materials.  You might be surprised how quickly
the birds will respond to a birdhouse.  I have seen birds building a nest in a
box just hours after I placed it in my backyard.

New England offers an ideal environment for backyard birding…it is truly one
of the great things about living here.  Create your own backyard bird habitat –
and you’ll have your bird neighbors come back again and again each spring.

About the author: Bill Askenburg moved to New England three years ago
from Atlanta.  He started New England Birdhouse, a company that creates
custom handcrafted birdhouses made to the unique likeness of their
customers’ homes.  For more information, please visit their website,
www. or email Bill at
Backyard Birding
The Heart of New England
Celebrating the unique character & culture of Maine ~ New Hampshire ~ Vermont
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