Birds in the garden

PUBLISHED: 16:04 17 June 2008 | UPDATED: 15:15 20 February 2013

Blue Tits

Blue Tits

Birds and butterflies are a little like flowers on the wing. Though fleeting, their presence brings a beauty to your garden that nothing else can match. Cultivate a spot that invites them in to stay.

It won't be the tidiest garden on the block, but one that has areas wet and dry, looks a little wild and has some weeds and flowers gone to seed. It will be a home for insects and earthworms, too (no harmful pesticides here), with something blooming from spring through fall. This welcoming place will keep birds and butterflies close till the change of seasons prompts most to move on.

Feeding birds
If you feed birds all winter, some, such as jays and chickadees, will stay throughout the year. For hummingbirds you can hang a feeder in the summer, but they will also visit many cultivated and wild flowers, especially those that are red and funnel-shaped. Other birds will come for insects, fruit and seeds.

Favoured by the insect eaters are airborne pests, such as mosquitoes and blackflies, and plant pests, including weevils and caterpillars. Trees and shrubs in declining health provide insects for woodpeckers and knotholes for nests, while an unraked spot under a large tree lets birds enjoy bugs hidden in the leaf litter. Elderberries, strawberries, saskatoons and cherries may be devoured by birds before you get your chance. Seedheads and rose hips left to ripen on their stalks are an attraction through winter. And shrubs and trees that hold seeds and fruit into fall -- such as crab apple, honeysuckle, pin cherry, chokeberry and dogwood -- will tempt migrating birds on their way south.

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