Master Gardener Sue Morris: Your plant and tree choices can help attract birds
My hope is that you are taking advantage of this extra time at home to be out in your yards and enjoying nature — probably planting some bright flowers and trying to grow some vegetables for eating enjoyment.
If you don’t have a yard, then going for walks or bike rides helps you connect with nature too.
What makes me smile every morning is waking up, looking out the window and seeing all the beautiful birds at my feeders — Baltimore and orchard orioles flitting back and forth fighting for the grape jelly, along with rose-breasted grosbeaks, yellow finches, scarlet tangiers, cardinals, blue jays and the different varieties of woodpeckers and even the blackbirds eating away.
They are so beautiful with the fresh green leaves on the trees in the background. It’s going to be a good day … if I don’t turn on the news.
Recently I ran across some information from the University of Minnesota about which plants and trees are especially attractive to birds.
Trees and shrubs they mention include bur oak, black cherry, sugar maple, white pine, hackberry, apples of all varieties, chokecherry, wild plum, serviceberry, dogwoods, and raspberries (but you may not want them in your patch!).
And wild grape — which I’m not a fan of because birds “plant” these seeds in all my flower beds and in the grove and the vines take over trees if you aren’t watching them, especially the evergreens.
Seems I spend a lot of time pulling them or digging them out. Probably doesn’t help that I have a huge vine climbing my one silo.
Flowers mentioned were: black-eyed Susan, goldenrod, sunflowers, wild columbine, cardinal flower, jewelweed, fuchsia, honeysuckle vine, trumpet vine, red salvia, lantana, cardinal vine, bee balm, hollyhock, hosta, foxglove, coral bells and phlox. All but the first two mentioned are favorites of hummingbirds.
If you would like to get a field guide to help you identify different birds, two good choices mentioned were: "A Field Guide to the Birds East of the Rockies" by R.T. Peterson and "National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America."
The one I keep handy is the "National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds."
Now is an excellent time to do some mulching in your gardens, especially under and around the tomato plants.
Mulching preserves moisture in the soil and prevents water splashing spores from the soil back up onto the leaves, causing blight. Could also prevent blossom end rot which comes from uneven watering.
As mentioned before, if you are using grass clippings and have recently sprayed your lawn for weeds, don’t use the clippings until after at least three mowings.
Laying several layers of newspaper down before using grass or mulch helps prevent weeds as well.
By fall the newspaper will have disappeared.