How to Attract Birds
You can turn your backyard landscape into a small bird kingdom by simply adding the appropriate trees and shrubs. The right balance of foliage in your backyard will create a bird-friendly habitat that is sure to attract a variety of your favorite birds. Your efforts will pay off in the end when you complete the creation of your own private bird-like sanctuary.
With a little researching effort, you can find out what trees are native to your area. Native trees are more likely to provide the right combination of elements that indigenous birds require. Planting native non-invasive trees will help attract a wide variety of bird species while preserving the their natural environment. Trees are an essential part of bird survival, and the right trees can give your local feathered friends everything they need for food, shelter and nesting. Trees can even supply birds with water since leaves collect water that small birds can drink. Many birds will even rub up against wet leaves to bathe and clean themselves.
Non-native species may also be a good choice, as they are not always invasive to native trees in the same area. Non-native trees don't necessarily come from far away. They may come from neighboring areas, but from different ecosystems. Pine trees, for example, can flourish in your desert backyard and other climate regions as long as there is a little human care. Their root systems pose no serious threat to sidewalks and foundations.
It's important to recognize that some species, whether they are native to your area or not, grow very fast and spread seeds that germinate quickly. This can result in the competition and displacement of desirable plants and trees, not only in your yard, but surrounding neighborhood. The root systems of some trees can also be invasive to the point of causing cracked sidewalks and water deprivation. Try to avoid planting Poplars, Willows, American Elm and Silver Maples.
Location - If you observe nature, you'll notice that trees usually grow next to each other in groups. This promotes cross-pollination and fertilization, which means more leaves, blossoms and fruit for birds to eat. It also means more shelter and nesting materials. Planting large and small trees close to each other creates multiple layers and gives more bird species something important in which to survive.
Be careful when planting trees that are water hungry. Planting several trees within a close proximity can cause a water depletion in the soil. Willows, Eastern Red Cedars, Bald Cypress and River Birch are trees that can soak up large amounts of water every day. Plant a combination of trees that aid in the cross-pollination process and help your ecosystem as a whole, while avoiding trees that cause allergic reactions. If you suffer from pollen allergies, don't plant male Ash and Mulberry trees, as they are a cause of pollen producing trees that can bring on severe sinus problems.
Think about where you want to plant your trees and how their locations will affect surrounding parts of your home. Mulberry trees are a deciduous tree that Robins, Waxwings and Cardinals like to nest in, however, the fallen fruit is messy and can stain sidewalks. The Silver Maple grows so fast that it becomes brittle and breaks easily during storms. Their roots are notorious for cracking driveways and sidewalks. Pine trees are always a great choice, but once their branches interfere with power lines, they must be trimmed back, never to grow back again. Eucalypyus trees (Australian immigrant) grow rampant in California and are a popular choice for domestic parots gone wild, but think twice when allowing one to grow too close to a pool - they are known for dropping big heavy branches. Planning for the right location will help you accurately account for maintenance and also more serious issues such as overhead electrical wires, underground pipes, cement slabs, fences and neighboring airspace.
Local Climate - When choosing trees for birds, it is important to first consider your local climate. Hardwood trees, such as Maple, mainly grow well in colder climates and need freezing temperatures for the sap to run. The Chitalpa tree, a heat loving blossom tree, will grow 2 feet a year up to 30 feet in hot deserts. They produce a bright pink bloom that will persist through fall and is a good choice for birds that like flowering trees.
Soil - Consider the chemistry of your soil by testing the soil for pH and nutrient level. Test kits are available at most nurseries and home improvement stores. The texture of your soil is also important. There are three types - sand, silt, and clay. Water-loving trees may have trouble in sand, since water is not retained well. On the other hand, clay can kill trees that require excellent drainage.
Trees will grow more quickly and be healthier if you prepare the soil before planting. Lightly fertilize the area directly affected after digging to help the root system make the transition from the pot to the ground. When the tree is planted, lightly add a little more fertilizer to the top area around the trunk and add water.
Careful consideration will result in a more functional tree environment and will give birds many options that suit their healthy-tree preferences. Consider two basic types of trees:
Deciduous Trees: A broad-leafed tree that lose their leaves in the winter but produce flowers and buds in the spring. They are also capable of providing some stunning shades and colors in the fall. Many Deciduous Trees produce fruit. The leaf litter is also a fine source of food for ground-feeding birds in the fall, and it also provides nesting material in the spring.
Coniferous Trees: An evergreen trees that have stiff needle-like leaves that stay on the tree year-round, making them essential for winter shelter for birds, particularly in areas with heavy snowfall. Many birds will also feed on seeds from the cones of coniferous trees.
Birds get their food not only from the fruits of trees but from their seeds, cones, blossoms and nectar. Selecting trees that provide these food types will provide birds with a reliable food source in every season. Some trees produce food types that reach their ripening stage in spring, and others in summer or winter. Birdwatching and picture-taking opportunities are much more bountiful if you decorate your landscape with a variety of trees that birds prefer.
There are many types of wild birds that will become your life long friend if you have a variety of shrubs around your home. You will have a deeper appreciation of the environment if your yard is benefiting birds as well as bees and butterflies. There are many shrubs that attract these creatures, and fortunately, there are many choices you can make that will include species tolerant of various climate and soil conditions.
Shrubs for food: There are many varieties of shrubs and small trees that will attract birds to their fruit. Growing North American natives like the dogwoods, Carolina buckthorn, blueberries, hollies, mulberry, sumac, blackberries, and viburnums will ensure that the favorite foods of native bird species are available to them. The blossoms will also attract honey bees which in turn will help in the pollination process and sustain biodiversity.
Shrubs for shelter: Although some birds nest high in large trees, many species, such as the Eastern Bluebird and others, prefer shrubs or limbs as low as 3 or 4 feet from the ground. Shrubs with dense cover and lots of branches are usually preferred for nesting over shrubs with open spaces between their branches. Heavenly bamboo (not a true bamboo) is a beautiful evergreen with dense and finely toothed foliage. The hollies are also useful as nesting shrubs due to their prickly leaves, which act as deterrents to predators. Gooseberries and multiflora roses are also good.
If you rely on a local nursery or garden center, choose one that is reputable with a wide selection of vibrant plants and knowledgeable staff. A talented horticultural professional with his/her own area of expertise should be particularly familiar with plant choices and cultural practices suited to helping you plan your bird haven. Ask them to specifically help you with plant selection, design challenges, plant identification, plant problem diagnostics and bird preferences with certain plant species.
Select shrubs that are healthy and well cared for so they will survive the transition from the nursery to your yard. Shrubs should have a symmetrical form with no gaping spaces or broken branches. They should not be wilting or damaged. Their colors should be appropriate to the current season. Make sure there is no evidence of diseases or insect damage/infestation.
Crawlers and Creepers - These provide further foliage and take up little space. They can add beauty and character to a plain rock wall, fence or divider. Climbers and creepers also boost insect population and draw birds near. Clematis, dog rose and honeysuckle are traditional favorites. If you're a hummingbird fan, plant various species of Honeysuckle. The brightly colored blossoms will attract hummingbirds of different species.
Organic landscapes and gardens involve treating shrubs, vegetable plants, trees and soil without the use of chemicals. Learning what's involved in organic landscaping helps you, your neighbors and wildlife. The absence of toxic chemicals allows green foliage as well as birds to thrive and become healthier while maintaining the ground and water tables in their natural state. Try making your own compost with coffee grounds, banana peels, egg shells, wood chips, etc. This is cheaper than fertilizer and works great.
Basically, the right choice of trees and shrubs is something that will make both birds and you happy! Don't be tempted to plant a certain tree because the species looks great or grows fast. Yes,. Eucalyptus trees grow very fast (10' feet in a year), but they also have a bad habit of simply falling over during rain storms. When the ground becomes water soaked, the top-heavy tree cannot resist the wind forces from pushing the tree above ground, causing the tree to 'pivot' on it's ball root below, and falling over. Willow trees look great, but their aggressive root systems are water hungry and will terrorize other plants. The wood is weak and prone to cracking, and the life span is only about 30 years.
Putting in some honest time and effort will have a big pay off for everyone. Your hard work and dedication will result in a yard with the right tree and shrub schematics, benefiting you, wildlife and your neighbors. Your landscape will also have long-lasting resources that will benefit future generations to come by helping mother nature to sustain herself and evolve.
Bird baths are a simple and attractive ornament on your list of bird-scaping efforts. Don't let your feathered friends stay dirty and thirsty, host a year-round bird bath in your backyard. Bird-watching is even more fun to watch when birds are bathing. Once birds find your bird bath and realize that it's a reliable and clean source of water, they'll return again and again. Almost all bird species will use your bird bath for either drinking or bathing. Bird baths are simple, fun, easy to maintain and will serve as the most attractive ornament in your bird kingdom. The styles range in functionality, durability, portability and aesthetic appeal. The construction materials range from concrete to plastic but may also be made from copper, aluminum, resin, ceramic and plaster.
Solar powered bird baths are available and are designed to circulate water. There are no running costs so you don't have to worry about running up electricity bills. The water circulates from a pump that uses free energy harnessed from the sun. Just place the solar panel in the sun and watch your fountain flow. Then relax and enjoy birds in your yard.
Solar fountain style bird baths offer the same function, although often the water cascades down a series of tiers. Another nice aspect of cascading bird baths or fountains is the way they provide the soothing sound of moving water. In summer, mosquitoes will not be a problem either. The circulating water inhibits their reproduction, since mosquitoes need stagnant water to lay their eggs.
In winter, choose a year round bird bath and make sure it is frost resistant for lasting durability. Some styles provide heated water and are equipped with a heating element which will keep water from freezing. They plug into outdoor outlets and are constructed with exterior grade electrical components. Winter birds will appreciate fresh warm water during freezing weather when survival is hardest.
Another approach to bird baths are hanging bird baths. Some designs you will see are the typical bowl shape but other imaginative designs include folded hands, bird wings, leaf shape and others. They typically hang from three chains, which can interfere with your view of the birds and with the bird's wings as they dive in and take off. However, some companies have solved the problem and created a design enabling only one chain or rope to suspend the bird bath by a looping arm that is fastened to the base with a loophook at the top where the chain connects.
More traditional shapes concentrate on aesthetic appeal and don't include solar panels, electrical wires or water pumps,.. just a basic yet attractive design. Some designs lean away from the conservative feel and include a complimented feature attached to the bath area itself combined with wildlife figures such as frogs, swans and others.
Bird feeders are very easy for some birds to discover and will become common visitors to your backyard, particularly in winter. Offering a variety of different bird food will increase your chances of attracting a wide range of birds. Pet stores offer a pre-mix of bird seed formulas and these formulas will vary. Try mixing your own recipie of suet, peanuts, sunflower seeds and maybe a few kitchen scraps and bread crumbs. With the right mix, you will see these birds regularly. Birds will be hard to get rid of when they memorize the location of a reliable source of food. Bird feeders can be used with seeds, nuts, fruit, suet, worms and scraps.
Types of Feeders
There are three main classifications of bird feeders. These classifications include platform feeders, hopper feeders and tube feeders.
Tube Feeders - Tube feeders have small perches and seed ports which make it difficult for larger birds to perch or access the bird seed. Basic tube feeders are long and narrow and have seed ports large enough to accommodate certain seeds. Other types of tube feeders are specifically designed for goldfinches as the perches are above the feeding ports and require goldfinches to feed upside down. Some models attach two or three tubes together, allowing more birds to feed and providing several types of seed simultaneously. Tube feeders are great for smaller, perching birds like finches and chickadees. They allow the birds to eat without being chased away by bigger birds.
Hopper Feeders - Regular hopper feeders resemble wooden bird houses. You can hang them from a branch or mount them on a pole. The roof of the hopper feeder keeps bird seed dry and usually lifts up for refilling seed. The compartment that holds the seeds are made from clear plastic so you will know when refilling is needed.
Platform Feeders - Platform feeders offer seeds contained in a tray and are most likely to attract larger birds. Platform feeders typically have a ledge that prevents seeds from falling off and some have roofs to minimize the effects of bad weather. Some may have sunken trays in the middle of an open platform with no roof. Platform feeders are typically constructed of wood or plastic. Table style platform feeders have raised edges with legs that sit about a foot off the ground. They are the easiest kind of feeder to build and maintain. Table feeders are good for ground-feeding birds, like cardinals, doves and blackbirds, and you may also find other birds like jays eating there as well.
Window feeders are great for birdwatchers and bird photographers. Viewing birds from within your home is no problem with this type of feeder sitting directly on the sill or suctioned directly to your kitchen glass. They include a one-way mirror so that you can see the birds, but they won't be frightened away.
Suet Feeders provide a wholesome, protein-filled snack for your avian friends. Suet ensures that birds, especially smaller birds, get the protein and fat that they need in order stay energized, especially in winter. If you want to keep the large birds away, you can try a satellite bird feeder - they are too small for big birds to land because the landing area is too small, making it impossible for them to make a safe landing and perch themselves.
Nectar Feeders are designed to attract birds such as hummingbirds, orioles and woodpeckers. Nectar feeders for orioles have larger ports, and must have a perch. Nectar feeders vary primarily by the amount of nectar they can hold and number of ports available. You can buy a special nectar mix, or you can make it yourself by combining one part table sugar to five parts water. Store the unused mixture in the fridge and watch the birds flock to your feeders.
Bird feeders sometimes offer an assortment of items designed to help the mounting, cleaning and maintaining a bird feeder. Specially designed brushes will clean the tiny ports of hummingbird feeders or the long, hard-to-reach bottoms of tube feeders. Poles, hangers and hooks help you find the perfect place to position your bird feeder and enjoy the view.
Placing a bird house in your backyard is an effective way to attract birds in search of the right habitat. Creating a suitable environment for birds should be done first by planting a few trees, shrubs and some grass. Then consider a bird feeder, bird bath, a blooming tree if possible, and finally a bird house. Basic elements along with a diversified combination of bird attractions will create an ideal place for backyard birds.
Choosing the Right Bird House
The architecture of a functional outdoor bird house should feature a solid wood construction, ventilation, durability and a way to remove old nests. They must have indoor space dimensions which accommodate a mother bird and her eggs. Bluebirds can lay up to eight small eggs and need the added space to accommodate not only the nest itself, but the baby birds as they grow up and get big enough to fly.
Enclosed bird houses are completely enclosed (four walls) and have small entrances shaped like a circle or oval. Recent studies in New York have suggested that bluebirds prefer entrance holes that are oval shaped instead of a hole that is perfectly round, according to GeorgiaWildLife.com.
Platforms are completely flat structures which accommodate birds that prefer a 360 degree view from a flat open and exposed floor.
Bird house platforms are open face bird houses which expose the front and side, or partial side walls, allowing for a 90 - 180 degrees view.
Hanging bird houses - If you choose to hang a bird house, you must know that this is not the best option. However, wrens are one of the few species that will build a nest inside of a hanging bird house.
Pole mount - Pole mounted bird houses look great in you backyard. Martin houses (apartments) are a popular choice, and must be high in the air (10-20' ft) giving the martin a view of any near-by body of water.
A side mounted bird house is the best choice for most birds, as the instincts of a bird are undeniably accurate in determining stability. Mounted bird houses can attach to a pole, fence or wall and are a good option for most birds including bluebirds.
Bird houses that sit on their base are decorative, and are commonly used to display in your home, office or patio.
Bird houses don't need perches. Most birds have no problem landing directly on the side of the entrance. Landing slots just below the entrance hole add an extra space for the bird's claws to grasp. It also allows the mother bird to hang from the outside to feed her babies once they are big enough to stick their heads out through the entrance and receive food from the mother. Fledglings get so big that the mother can no longer enter into the structure, restricting her to feeding babies from the outside only.
Bird House Location
There are many species of birds in North America that will choose a fully or partially enclosed structure to live in. Placing a bird house in the right location will greatly increase your chances of attracting a bird.
The location of your bird house is important. Birds that prefer open face or platform structures prefer open views from where they nest. Robins mostly choose closed or partially closed structures and it's best to mount them on a strong branch in the lower half of a large shade tree or the side of a shed with an overhang. Robins spend a lot of time in trees, so if you mount a structure in a tree, mount it in the lower half of the tree in a secure spot that blends and looks natural. Mother robins, however, are know for building nests in unlikely places such as outside light fixtures, gutters or open spaces under a roof overhangs. If you have a strong tree on your property, choose a space in the tree that has open views through its branches. Try to face the structure away from direct sunlight. A platform style bird house will also attract other species, such as dove, cardinals and orioles to name a few. If you're a birdwatcher or photographer, you will enjoy watching birds as they nest and raise their young.
For pole mounting, place bird houses on a 6-10 foot pole and about 25 feet apart. Although this is optimal for most birds, purple martins houses will be more successful if they are place 10-20 feet high away from trees and located near a large water source, since they love to eat flying insects near water. Owl houses should be about 18-20' feet above ground. Telescopic poles will enable you to bring the structure down for inspection and cleaning.
Bluebirds have become more dependent on humans in past decades, and mounting a bird house to a post or fence will increase your chances of a bluebird showing up. Make sure the bird house is mounted in an open area with a tree and shrubs not too far away. Bluebirds are also known for sticking around during winter instead of migrating to warmer weather, and placing a bird house near a bird feeder will ensure that these attractive songbirds will have what they need to survive cold winter months.
If you want multiple bird houses to attract various bird species, place multiple bird houses in various places at opposite ends of your yard. Open and closed bird houses mounted or hung in various locations will attract a number of species, including wrens, bluebirds, robins and titmice. Placing a bird house somewhere beneath the roof of a shed or garage will attract phoebes, since they need the added security of a large overhang. Place the bird houses at least 25 feet apart, giving them a comfort zone and preventing territorial birds from competing for space. Attracting bluebirds and starlings might be a problem, since they are species that fight and compete for the same nesting sites. Starlings played a role in the declining bluebird population during the 20th century.
Do not use a bird houses with a perch if you have a big problem with predators in your area. Perches make it east for snakes, squirrels, cats and other predators to climb up and eat eggs.
Final Considerations Concerning Location
Do not mount a bird house close to a vegatable garden unless the birds you are trying to attact are insectivores. Insect eating birds will help to reduce the number of harmful bugs that destroy your garden plants and vegetables. Attracting seed eating birds will not be as beneficial, as they can find newly planted seeds in your garden that have been planted 1/2" inch in the ground.
Be careful not to place a bird house too close to a bird feeder, causing many birds to congregate and compete close to the mother bird and her eggs.
Bird House Materials
Wood is the best material to use for a bird house. Regardless of the type of bird you are trying to attract, wood is the most blended and abundant substance in nature that a bird will make use of. Building a wooden bird house and placing it next to a tree or shrub with similar wood texture will make the bird feel that the structure is part of nature.
Wood is durable, has good insulating qualities, and is porous which means it breathes. Wood thickness should be at least 1/2" thick. Solid wood is preferable, but plywood will also do. Avoid pressboard or any other pressure and chemical wood. Pine and cedar are durable and affordable. Hard woods such as Mahogany are good too, but more expensive.
For pole mounted bird houses, the pole used should be made from metal to stop the threat of cats, squirrels and raccoons from gripping the pole and climbing up. If a wooden pole is used, it should be equipped with a predator guard.
All Wood Bird houses uses pine and cedar and we never paint or stain the interior. The best colors for functional bird houses are earth colors such as green, grey or white. Dull satin colors with light shades will reflect heat. Choose a non-toxic paint that is water resistant and has a level of ultraviolet protection. Stain, on the other hand, will give you more flexibility for retaining the natural look for grain and texture and allows you to match the bark texture and color of the trees in your backyard more accurately. Avoid using too much stain, birds have a good sense of smell and can easily detect oil, metal, stain, paint or other sustenance that don't seem natural. Using metal for the sides and roofs may cause a serious reflection from the sun and discourage birds from nesting. It may also attract predators.
Be sure that you don't clear your yard of all nest-making material such as twigs, leaves, dry grass, moss, bark strips, pine needles, hair/fur and mud. Man-made materials should be also included - string, stuffing material, thin strips of cloth, shredded paper and yarn. You don't need to scatter these materials across your yard, birds will find them if left in piles or a bucket in an open area.
Just about anyone can attract a finch, titmouse, wren, or chickadee. These bird species share similar likes and dislikes and by placing a properly designed bird house 5-10' feet about the ground near some trees and shrubs, at least a few of these species are likely to scope it out. Although the instincts of a bird can tell it a lot about a structure and it's strength, wrens don't seem to have consistent preferences as to where or what they nest in. Reports have shown that wrens will nest inside of a drinking fountain mounted on the outside wall of a building, inside old tires, bottles, and radiators in abandoned cars.
Birds are very dependent on water during summer and rely heavily on feeders during winter. Placing a bird house close to a feeder and water increases your chances of attracting birds and keeping them around during winter. Keep in mind that many birds are territorial and by placing a bird houses too close to sources of food and water may cause disputes between birds competing for food and territory. During summer months, this will become an even bigger problem as more birds are returning for the warmer months.
If your landscape has adequate space, consider several bird houses of different sizes and shapes. Open spaces along with trees and other variations including a water source will attract a wider array of birds and increase your chances of birds moving to your 'neck of the woods'. As far as decorative bird houses, there are no rules for deciding on paint, stain, materials or location. The idea is to have fun with them, however, your best chances of attracting the birds you want, following basic rules of materials will increase your chances of a successful bird garden.
Snags are dead or dying trees that are still standing and holding fast, usually at the bottom of a body of water. Snags that are protruding out of the water or have fallen onto dry ground can provide wildlife with a vibrant setting for shelter, food, hibernation and storage. Snags can result from disease, lightning, fire, insect infestations, too much shade, drought, root competition as well as old age. Snags are very important for wildlife in both natural and landscaped environments and can enhance your area by attracting birds and other wildlife species that may not otherwise be found there.
List of Uses
Flying and land-dwelling wildlife alike use snags for many purposes-to nest, rest, preen, feed, store food, hibernate, perch, drum (to signal ownership of territory), and roost. All classes of animals nest in the cavities of dead or dying trees. Many bird species in North American use tree cavities for cover and feeding. Many of these species will not nest elsewhere and so, without snags, they would become extinct. They provide shelter from wind, rain, and snow, and the temperature inside cavities in large trees stays more constant than the surrounding air, giving added protection. For many species, that's also where their food is, so it's convenient for dining.
While living trees offer superior camouflage and safety for birds when the trees are in full foliage, dead trees, without the leaves, provide both a great staging area for birds and a great view for birdwatchers and photographers.
Any bird flying from one point to another may choose a snag as a pit stop to briefly rest their wings. Dead and bare branches that are exposed to open air makes it easier for birds to pick a choice spot for a safe landing. Landing on a branch without having to navigate heavy leaves and branches for a good spot makes a snag more appealing to stop for a quick rest before they take off again.
Many predators, such as hawks, eagles, ospreys, red-tail hawks, herons, and egretsalso use snags to scope out their meals. At the same time, they can use it as a look-out point to keep an eye on members of their own species who invade their territory. Often, they simply use snags because of the bare branches of snags to perch or roost on. Perhaps this is because the bare trees are the best place to keep an eye on potential invaders or just because it's hard for large birds to maneuver wings through foliage.
The Original Cavity Creators - Woodpeckers
Woodpeckers use large dead tree trunks as a way to make their presence known, hammering their bills against the tree's dry surface. They are "cavity nesters" and their bodies are built for the task with thick skulls, powerful neck muscles and beveled, chisel-like bills. A woodpecker's ability to climb along the vertical path of a tree trunk is made possible with strong grasping feet and sharp curved nails to form a triangular foot-grip for support. The woodpecker's barb-tipped tongue and sticky saliva help it get insects from deep crevices. Unlike other cavity-nesting birds, woodpeckers rarely use bird houses because their instincs instruct them to bore out their own cavities.
Woodpeckers may create more than just one hole in a year and probably will not nest in the same hole the next year, thus creating many cavities for secondary cavity nesters such as bluebirds, martins, chickadees, house wrens, squirrels, and owls - who cannot excavate cavities themselves. Secondary cavity nesting wildlife such as these are dependent upon the availability of these abandoned nest cavities.
Retaining a dead tree in your yard as a snag requires a carefully planned decision to determin whether the location of the snag is a safe spot and won't pose a hazard if they eventually fall. The best locations are away from picnic areas, car ports, power lines, gas meters, children play areas, gardens or any structure that has high activity from humans. Trees that are leaning, especially downhill or toward a house will not make the best choice for a possible snag.
On The Ground
Downed trunks and logs are useful to a variety of smaller creatures such as moles, chipmunks, salamanders, snakes, turtles, frogs and invertebrates. The underlying spaces are used for nesting, resting and protection while the elevated parts of the log are used for foraging as well as lookout sites. The base of the log provides foraging for woodpeckers and other insectivorous birds. Once the tree is on the ground, it affects the surrounding plant community which starts to change and a microhabitat is created around the log creating even more opportunity for animals and insects to thrive. If you live on a large property area that has bodies of water, a dying tree that falls and lands accross a stream or pond can be used as a bridge for mammals, and can also be used as a basking site for turtles or frogs.
Another way to use decaying wood is by creating a wood pile with branches, twigs, bark and small logs. These create excellent cover for a variety of wildlife species including small mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians and will serve many functions including shelter, perching, foraging, storing and hibernation. A wood pile is made by starting with a base of larger branches which creates entries for wildlife and then piling on other various sizes of branches in a mound or tepee-shape. Piling on enough branches and twigs that will bring the wood pile to a certain height will allow birds such as hummingbirds, robins, towhees and warblers to perch on the outside, while chickadees, thrushes and wrens will find shelter inside the brush pile. Wildlife that make use of the damp base areas deep inside the wood pile include chipmunks, rabbits, shrews, turtles, lizards, toads, salamanders and snakes.
A small rock pile consisting of some beautiful rocks and stones will also look stylish near a wood pile. Rocks absorb heat and will attract lizards and frogs giving them a place to hibernate, as a rock pile will help them to regulate their temperature. A pile of medium sized rocks stacked evenly will give them a safe place to multiply during the spring.
Dress Up Your Landscape
Snags and wood piles are used primarily for their functional aspects and are not intended to beautify areas of your home and garden. If there are rough areas in your yard that could use a little "dressing up", consider some decorative yard art from Wood Worx by John. There are many styles to choose from and all designed to give your home landscape a whole new personality. View their entire inventory by visiting www.woodworxbyjohn.com .