Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Bird Feeder in Every Yard

A red-shouldered hawk rises from the ground with a large fence lizard clutched in its talons. This isn’t a scene from a nature documentary, this is the view from my kitchen. I don’t live in rural Montana, but rather in the suburbs of Los Angeles, two blocks from one of the busiest freeways in North America, if not the world. How am I so lucky to see wildlife dramas on a daily basis? One main reason – ten years ago, I put out a bird feeder.

I know what you're thinking. “Wait a minute, hawks don’t come to bird feeders and neither do western fence lizards.” And you would be absolutely right, but putting out a bird feeder influenced our entire outdoor living space.

  1. It attracted birds to the yard in a visible way so that I could begin to learn the local bird species.
  2. New knowledge about what different birds were eating encouraged me to reconsider the plants I planted in the yard. I began to relandscape with native plant species to attract birds and butterflies.
  3. We stopped using all forms of toxic pesticides and herbicides in and around our house. Native insects reduced pest insects, lizards and bats moved in to eat the insects.
  4. We added a water feature to provide dependable water to wildlife during drought seasons, a greater variety of birds, including hawks, and rabbits arrived.

Putting out a bird feeder was the beginning of creating a habitat in my yard that supports a wide range of biodiversity. Seven species of birds now nest here - see our hummingbird babies. Two species of lizards reproduce in our garden; western fence lizard. Check out some of the creatures that share our suburban space - Backyard Biodiversity Project.

As I look out my window over the rooftops of track homes, past the Ventura Freeway and the growing amount of pavement and concrete, I take heart in knowing that my yard is an oasis for wild creatures. As cities expand, wild habitat is lost. Birds and animals lose important living, hunting and breeding territory. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can make a difference. Put out a bird feeder. Begin offering a safe place for wild birds to find dependable food.

  • How do you decide on a bird feeder?
  • What food should you use?
  • What about water?

Each week AnimalBytes will take on an elemental question of how to start and be successful in creating habitat. We’ll start with bird-feeder basics.

Around the globe, wild animals are facing survival challenges as human populations expand and climate change alters weather patterns. If you make your yard, patio or even balcony a safe habitat, together we can change the world for the better.

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