Gardening is for the Birds

Hummingbird Mix

We bird feeders know of a hidden cost in the rising price of oil and gasoline: The cost of bird seed is going through the roof. Nyjer (thistle), imported from India and Africa, has tripled in price this past year. Black oil sunflower seed, home-grown for the most part, has doubled in price.

We’ve made a bargain with wild birds. We agree to supplement their diet with various seeds from constantly stocked feeders. In return, they provide us joy. They would survive without us feeding them. We would survive without the joy. But the world would be a poorer place. The lives of millions of wild birds would be harder and the lives of millions of humans less happy.

So, we’ll keep feeding wild birds and they’ll keep eating. But there are some things we can do to lower our costs while improving their diet.

One way of feeding your visitors less expensively is to plant bird-friendly gardens. They’ll have nectar, pollen, and insects to go with the seed you provide. You’ll benefit because the new mini eco-system you create will lure new bird species to visit. If you have a big yard, get rid of some of that grass and replace it with some bird-friendly plants. Manicured lawns provide little food or habitat for birds. (Lawns also have to be mowed, fertilized and watered and watered and then watered again, ad nauseam.) If, on the other hand, you live in an apartment or condo with only a small balcony or porch, plant a few pots.

Here are some tips for creating a bird-friendly garden.

Buy a few bags of pre-mixed specialty seeds. There are some excellent mixed seed packets, selected especially for the birds. Coincidentally, we sell these seed packets in our web store. Here are the links for the three varieties pictured in this post. Hummingbird Haven,Hummingbird Habitat Garden,Bird-Lovers’ Flower Garden. Click on them and through the magic of the internet, you will be whisked to our store where you can buy them from us.

If you have the space, plant your own sunflowers. Give your birds cut up oranges, grapes or raisins. Save your raw egg shells, then bake them in the oven for 20 minutes when you are preparing a meal, crush them and put them out for the birds. They are almost pure calcium and wild birds need calcium.

After your seeds start to grow, skip the pesticides. They poison the birds and pollute our water. Instead, buy some lady bugs. If you can’t find them at your local garden shop, you can actually order them. What the birds don’t eat, the lady bugs will.

And, as we always tell you, birds are attracted to water. In fact, water may be the best wild bird lure in the world. Birdbaths and water saucers will bring them to your new bird garden faster than greased Peregrines.

A bird garden: If you plant it, they will come.

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