During this time of year, the Dalton-Whitfield recycling center always has plenty of chirping sounds as birds come back with the warm temperatures. From around April until fall, many Killdeer and Swallows make their homes near the recycling center. Each makes unique nests with the Killdeer preparing its nests on the ground and swallows with nests made in the eaves of buildings with wet mud. While getting to see these birds and their unique nesting habitats each year is wonderful, it also means that we need to be responsible in trying to take care of them and create a welcoming environment.
Creating a yard that helps supports birds on their journeys takes some planning to choose the right techniques for specific regions. From choosing the right birdseed to preparing the outside of your home, there is plenty that you can do to encourage birds to come closer to your home and also do them good instead of harm.
Create a bird bath. Use a metal or plastic saucer near some rocks where birds can perch without getting into the bath to make your own bird bath or you can buy one from a local Lowe’s or Home Depot. You can keep the water continuously throughout the year as different species of birds will appreciate it. Just make sure that you change it out often enough that it remains clear. Every 6 months wash your birdbath with a brush and a solution of water and white vinegar, a common non-toxic solution for cleaning.
Choose the right plants for gardening. Planting native species in your garden, particularly berry bushes, helps attract birds to your yard. Do limit or stop the use of pesticides, however, as they can poison the insects that the birds eat and kill songbirds that may fly into your yard. Having wild grapes or honeysuckle creates tangles that many birds nest in such as white-eyed vireos or gray catbirds.
Buy high-quality seed. Just like you and I have preferences for food so do many birds. Try adding or checking for these seeds when you buy birdseed; sunflower seeds, thistle seeds, cracked corn, and white proso millet seed. These provide the correct nutrition that Northwest Georgia birds are looking for and could lead you to waking up to starlings, goldfinches, blue birds, and cardinals in your yard. Every few weeks make sure to check your birdfeeder and clean it out if needed. Sunflower seeds produce hulls that need to be cleared and many seed mixes have sorghum seeds that can build up and create bacteria.
Prepare the outside of your home. If you find that birds are attracted to your windows, make sure to move houseplants farther away from the window and look into purchasing anti-collision decals. If a bird collides with a window, it can cause serious damage to their brains and give them life-threatening concussions.
Celebrate Georgia and create a habitat for our state bird. The brown thrasher was chosen as the Georgia state bird in the 1970s. If you are interested in observing this small, twitchy bird, you can alter your yard to be more welcoming specifically to brown thrashers. Create a spot in your yard for a small brush pile. Thrashers and many other birds use brush piles to hide from predators. Having shrubbery in your yard will encourage them as well. You can put a layer of fallen leaves near the shrubs which encourages the brown thrashers to look there for food.
Preparing Nest Boxes. Help the birds with nesting by visiting newstwatch.org to determine where and how to place nest boxes. The site will also recommend which nests you should place based on the type of environment you live in. In our region, if you live in a town-like area of the county, we have three species in decline that you can help by preparing nest boxes. These include the Purple Martin, the Northern Flicker, and Carolina Chickadee.
Buy making a few adjustments to your outdoor space you can thoroughly enjoy the wide variety of bird species that will travel through your yard and enjoy their songs.