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Saskatoon, SK, Canada
We only have a small yard in our current house, but we do our best! We don’t have a tonne of feeders out, but there is the hopper which attracts chickadees, finches, sparrows, nuthatches and others. In Wintertime the hanging flower basket is replaced with a suet block used mostly by chickadees and downy woodpeckers. The plantings in the yard are a mix of food plants (for us), medicinals and decorative and include native species such as the chamomile and mullein visible on the left. (The chamomile attracts many insect pollinators.) There is a nectar feeder outside of the picture and sometimes ruby-throats come, but they seem as attracted by our plants as the feeder. The scarlet runners climbing the fence are especially popular with them and other pollinators. The yard is free of pesticides, herbicides and artificial fertilizer. It is also pet-free. The rabbits we breed for our own use, for meat, fur and their fertilization capabilities, but they have turned out to be very bird-friendly. The birds seem to find them companionable and are not at all afraid of them, even the rambunctious youngsters. They like the wire fence (which moves around the yard) to perch on. In the Winter, the rabbits are moved to open-fronted shelters which the birds also use, especially house sparrows. They shelter from weather on the edge, or even right underneath, the cages and sometimes bring their seeds in there to crack open. We have also seen corvids eating rabbit pellets off our lawn, for pro-biotics and a couple times magpies have taken a few pieces of their food. (Rabbit food is mostly roughage, so not sure why…perhaps the salt and minerals.) But they don’t bother the rabbits like they would cats and the rabbits certainly don’t bother them. Plus, the rabbits breed from Spring to Fall and make nests with hair pulled from their bodies. I think every bird nest in our neighbourhood is lined with rabbit fur from bits that blow around our yard. American robins frequent the yard and garden (garden is behind the fence) as a safe place with a healthy supply of food. Mostly worms and such, but once we saw one stealing some of our raspberries too. The compost also attracts birds. Corvids will cruise it for tidbits. (We once watched while a crow spent most of the day taking away and stashing the soft bones, skin and such from a batch of stock I had dumped there.) We’ve also seen insect eaters like a waterthrush and others on it. The pole nearby has a birdhouse at the top and there is another, different kind in another corner of the yard. We plant sunflowers in the garden specially for the birds. Warblers come to the yard for our large tomato plants. They offer excellent cover for the shy birds and the sticky branches trap all sorts of insects.
Week 14: Bird-friendly Yards
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