Bird-Friendly Backyards

Is your yard a place birds want to be? Photo: Wink Gaines

If you want your home and garden to benefit climate-stressed birds and other wildlife, native plants are just the starting point.  Here are other ways to roll out the red carpet for creatures acclimating to a warming world:

Welcoming Wildlife

  • Add a wildlife water feature.
  • Plan your garden so that there are tasty treats for birds in every season.
  • Tuck in bird or bat nest boxes (for native species of course).
  • Create other nesting habitat – a platform for osprey, swallow condos, niches for cavity nesters, etc.
  • Attract pollinators and beneficial insects by including a native wildflower meadow, rock piles, bundles of branches, a mason bee house, etc.  And/or add an apiary.
  • Nix pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and – heaven forbid – rodent poison.
  • Reduce or eliminate outdoor lighting during bird migrations.
  • Experiment with creative ways to reduce window collisions.
  • Keep your kitty indoors, or in a cool "catio."

Bracing for Change

With weather shifts expected, here's how to make your yard "climate resilient":

  • Include three to five different levels of vegetation (because "vertical diversity" will shelter more climate-stressed species).
  • Limit or exclude exotic plants (because climate-stressed birds will be searching for a native buffet).
  • Add at least one canopy tree taller than 30 feet (because it's not getting any cooler).
  • Conserve water by installing a rain barrel, limiting thirsty exotic plants, eliminating permanent irrigation, and watering new plants only in early morning or late evening (because drought's on the agenda).
  • Restore soils by composting kitchen waste and leaving clippings, leaves, downed wood, etc. (because healthy soils absorb or "sequester" carbon, actually reducing climate change).

Resilience Inside and Out

Conserving energy saves money and protects birds imperiled by climate change:

  • Power your home with solar – it's getting cheaper by the minute.
  • Seal every crack and crevice, and upgrade insulation as needed.
  • Close off unused rooms from heating and cooling.
  • Use energy-saving appliances.
  • Recycle all recyclable materials.

So much to fix, so little time!  :)  Please have fun with these suggestions, and tell us about your triumphs – we'd love to share them.

PROJECT CONTACT:  Matt Johnson, mgjohnson@audugon.org