Q. I have been feeding the birds all winter and want some advice on how to draw more kinds than the hundreds of sparrows I get. We will occasionally get mourning doves and the large blackbirds, but only rarely. I have been using a mixed seed. Should I add a second feeder with a more species specific seed or just change over and let the sparrows go to my neighbor’s feeder? – D.M., Dallas
A. Besides using a blend of various high quality seed and more than one feeder, introduce as many plants as possible that will attract birds, butterflies and other pollenators and other beneficial insects. That and the organic program are the keys to biodiversity. Large masses of single species are much less effective in attracting wildlife than mixtures of plants with varying textures, colors, times of bloom, fragrances and overall size of plants. Variety in plants is directly related to variety in wildlife.
It’s also helpful to let at least one area of your garden grow up completely wild. Also water with sprays in the morning to put moisture on the foliage of plants from time to time. The birds love it.
Here are some of the best trees, shrubs, vines, annuals and perennials for attracting birds and other interesting and helpful animals to the garden:
Tulip tree, oaks, hackberry, service berry, hawthorn, persimmon, deciduous yaupon, crabapple, elderberry, Eastern red cedar, scarlet buckeye, flowering dogwood, arrowood viburnum, magnolia, mulberry, black cherry, rusty blackhaw viburnum, and figs.
American beautyberry, Rough leaf dogwood, abelia, winter honeysuckle, roses, flame bush – winged euonymus, Carolina buckthorn, elaeagnus, hollies, leather leaf mahonia, and Chinese photinia.
Cypress vine, coral vine, cross vine, coral honeysuckle, Virginia creeper, grapes, and Carolina snailseed.
Turk’s cap, salvias, lantana, monardas, and chili pequin.
Sunflowers, scarlet sage, polk salat, nasturtium, hibiscus, ixora, and blackberries.
Daily Tip – Birds in the Garden
Home Page June 2005
Just about all birds are beneficial and help control tough pests like grasshoppers. Several bird feeders and a good variety of seed types help, but your planting design can greatly help with attracting many interesting and helpful birds.
The best way to attract birds is to introduce as many different plant species as possible, especially plants that provide food. That is how to attract birds, butterflies and other pollinators, as well as beneficial insects.
The organic program is another key to biodiversity. Large masses of single plant species are less effective in attracting wildlife than mixtures of plants with varying sizes, textures, colors, bloom times, and fragrances. Variety in plants is directly related to variety in wildlife.
It’s also helpful to let one area of your garden grow completely wild. It also helps to water the garden in the morning to put moisture on the foliage of plants. The birds love it, and don’t forget to feed the birds.
Question: For years, I have fed birds. This year, I have at least six Quaker parrots coming to my feeders. Since June, I have been through about 300 pounds of bird seed. No matter whether I buy premium seed or the cheap stuff, I have a tremendous amount of seed scattered on the ground. Birds such as doves eat some of the fallen seed, but not all. Do I pick it up, water it in or what? I don't want to create a disease situation. By the way, I really enjoy these parrots and the three parakeets that hang around with them. The parrots don't seem to deter the native birds that have been coming for years. D.B., Mesquite
Answer: You might try buying safflower seeds or using a mix of safflower and black sunflower seeds. There won't be as much waste on the ground. For the time being, rake the waste and add it to the compost pile.
Question: I purchased a 50-pound bag of bird seed, only to find halfway through using it that it is full of weevils. I put bay leaves in the bag, but they are not doing anything. Will it hurt anything if I release these pests in the back yard? Will they attack anything else? S.R., Dallas
Answer: The weevils won't hurt plants, and the birds may like the weevils. Next time, keep the seed in a cooler place, add natural diatomaceous earth to the container and try to use all the seed within six weeks. Bay leaves will help as a repellent, but they won't solve infestations.