Pleased to report that in March 2017 I can add a new nesting bird species to my piece of paradise. High in the Longleaf Pine Tree (Pinus palustris) Crows have taken up residence. Based on their sound they are more likely Fish Crows (Corvus ossifragus) than American Crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos). Now we wait to see if they are successful.
Dateline: May 22, 2015*
Spring 2015 is once again proving to be a banner year for bird broods in my beautiful wildlife garden. Bluebird brood #2 has successfully hatched and 4 healthy mockingbird babies located in a holly shrub not 15 feet away joined them this past week. It is dizzying watching the two sets of parents feed the 8 hungry mouths. As the days go by the number of feedings increase and the size of the insects get larger and larger. Both sets of parents participate in feeding the youngsters.
Earlier this month I spotted a baby dove nestling with one of the parents. I was lucky to catch sight of them for the next day baby was on its own sitting in the nest and one-day later all was quiet. The baby looked a good size and must have fledged in the early morning to avoid confrontation with the resident bird dogs. Doves generally lay two eggs and apparently this brood only one hatched.
Having the right conditions and plenty of readily available food in the form of insects is imperative if you are to be successful in attracting nesting birds to your garden.
The mockingbirds and doves like dense shrubs. The mockingbirds reused a nest from last year in a holly cultivar. The doves reused a mockingbird nest from last year that was in a bottlebrush shrub.
I use to hem and haw over whether to leave nest remains or to remove them. Now I leave them unless they are completely disintegrating. The birds do refurbish them and I have had successful nestlings in the renovated nests.
Bluebirds are cavity nesters so I maintain a nest box in the yard. I generally clean out the old nest about two days after fledge, but this time I didn’t get a chance to. Mom and dad just brought in some clean materials and freshened up the existing nest and as can be seen, the four little ones don’t seem to mind “used” digs at all.
Plant a variety of native plants to provide larval host materials for the insects that are key to making your garden attractive to birds looking to set up homes. If they see easy access to a food source, coupled with the right type of habitat, they are sure to stop, stay and raise their young. Then you can enjoy year after year of entertainment. A variety of berry-producing shrubs will keep the adults around and satisfied through the winter. During nesting season birds tend to eat more insects while later in the season and as the winter approaches they seek berries and seeds to fatten up.
I have a variety of blackberry, elderberries, holly and beautyberry shrubs that the birds all seem to relish. Bluestem grasses, Black-eyed Susan, Bidens alba and a variety of other wildflowers feed the need for seed. Be sure to have a readily available water source as well. It can be as simple as a shallow dish or as large as a full size pond.
And don’t be to tidy with the garden. Leave some dried debris so they have hiding spots that also provides a plethora of building materials. It won’t be long until the masses take up residence in your own beautiful wildlife garden and you can watch them soar.
This is an update of a tale originally published by Loret T. Setters on May 22, 2015 at the defunct national beautifulwildlifegarden[dot]com. Click the date to view reader comments.