Plan Your Backyard Bird Habitat

Get help and tips at the Bloomington Gardening & Landscaping Show, March 31
By Ann Hingas

From the Hoosier Times 3/11/0`


With the first day of Spring only 10 days away, many bird lovers will be trying to turn their backyards into choice habitat for birds and other wildlife.

"By cultivating habitat for birds, you contribute in a valuable way to reclaiming the natural world that has been radically changed by humans. Plan to mimic what you see in the wild. Since birds are a ‘natural pesticide’ dining on insects, caterpillars and mites, let's invite them to dine," says the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

Here are some tips and guidelines from the lab:

*Shelter: Group shrubs to create dense thicket for shelter from the elements and predators. Leave nesting boxes up all year for use as winter roosts. Cover old stumps with a native food-producing vine. Create brush piles with discarded holiday trees and yard "waste" branches and limbs. Face nest boxes away from direct sun and wind.

*Food and Drink: Serve a buffet of grasses, weeds and flowers for seed; trees and shrubs for insects, fruits and nuts; flowers and vines for nectar. Keep the restaurant open year round and offer a variety of feeder seeds and suet. Provide fresh, clean, dripping water or mist for bathing and drinking. Use wide shallow bowls for bird baths (1/2 to 1 inch at edges, sloping to 2 to 3 inches in the middle). Place water 10 to 20 feet from protective covering for safe escapes, and not so close that a cat can pounce.

*Nesting Spots: Provide a variety of plants and human-made nest boxes and shelves at different heights. Add trees, brambles, shrubs, vines, and hedges to provide varying habitats and attract different species. Keep dead trees or limbs that are not a threat to your home. Provide nesting material (hair, dog fur, string, yarn, dry grass, bark strips, pine needles) in a mesh container.

*Eliminate Hazards: Do not use toxic pesticides on your lawn or garden that might harm birds and other wildlife. Some granular pesticides are very bad because some birds ingest them, apparently mistaking them for seeds or gravel. Keep a close check on domestic pets that would prey upon nesting birds. Keep feeders well away from windows that feeding birds might mistake for an escape avenue. And, if you removed any food or shelter source from your backyard habitat, be sure to replace it this spring.


There is no better place to get all the information you need about creating bird and wildlife habitat in your yard than the 2001 Bloomington Gardening & Landscaping Show, set for March 31 at the Bloomington Convention Center, 3rd St. and College Ave.

Monroe County artist Maryrose Wampler opens the event this year with remarks entitled: "Discovering Indiana Trees - Secrets and Mysteries." A book signing with Wampler follows her remarks, slated for 9:30 a.m. on the 31st.

Here is the show schedule of events:

9:30 to 10:30 a.m.: Keynote (Maryrose Wampler) Discovering Indiana Trees - Secrets and Mysteries

11 a.m. to 12 p.m.:
•Growing Easy Perennials for Southern Indiana
•Making Your Backyard Bird-Watching Work for Science

12:15 to 1:15 p.m.:
•Creating Your Personal Aquatic Paradise
•Landscaping for Wildlife

1:30 to 2:30 p.m.:
Composting: Value-added Recycling
Learning to Win with Organic Vegetable Gardening

2:45 to 3:45 p.m.:
Managing a Bio-Diverse Natural Area
Using Herbs From Your Garden

This is the second year for the garden show in Bloomington. It is sponsored by the Hoosier Times and the Sycamore Land Trust as a fund-raising event.

Admission is $5 for adults and children under 12 are free. There will be kids activities, a book sale & book signing, a food concession (Bloomingfoods), presentations and vendors. Visit for more information.


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