This season’s mysterious bird illness has taken my thinking. I’ve become more interested in birds during the past two years and would like to attract them to my yard with plants. Saad, 25 Years old, Freelancer.
Bird-attracting landscaping definitely beats out bird feeders as the preferable way to bring these beauties into yards for easier viewing as a safer environment than a communal feeder. (Also, while you’re at it, look into ways to discourage window strikes since plants, like feeders, could increase encounters with glass.)
Saad: Plant recommendations are going to be incredibly varied because the diet of birds is so varied, both across species and throughout the year. Site conditions in your garden will narrow down what may be an overwhelming list of choices. Here are some general tips: plant as much variety as you have room for; plant to provide food for insects, and the birds will follow; and when looking at berry or seed production, consider productivity for each season. Try to focus on native plants only, since birds will deposit their seeds beyond your landscape.
To pick a timely category — late-ripening berries — there are some notably popular species. Highly-ranked contenders for both resident and southbound migrant birds include viburnums, dogwoods (trees and shrubs), spicebush, Virginia creeper, Eastern redcedar, magnolia, black tupelo, hackberry, sassafras, bayberry, sumac, hollies, and hawthorn.Q: I’m still learning about a pest that’s relatively new to me: jumping worms. Is there anything I can do this time of year to prevent them from colonizing my yard?
Saad: These invasive worm species can be difficult to control, in part because the egg cases are hard to detect. While adult jumping worms will soon die in freezing weather, their tiny egg cases (also known as egg cocoons) won’t and can easily infiltrate mulch, leaf litter, or soil in plants brought into the yard.
To help avoid contamination and unintentionally furthering worm spread, try to keep fallen autumn leaves on your property, using them as mulch or compost. Garden beds can be mulched with whole or chopped leaves instead of shredded bark. This type of natural mulching helps boost biodiversity above and below the soil surface, and the organic matter it adds can help alleviate soil compaction and return nutrients to the root zone.
When planting in autumn, you can inspect the soil for signs of jumping worm feeding, and bare-rooting plants when possible remove soil that may contain egg cocoons. Love them, they are our social friends.
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