Written by an area Landscape Architect and birdwatcher with over 30 years of experience with landscaping in north Texas: what works and what doesn't. Emphasis on attracting birds to north Texas yards, and reducing required yard maintenance. Tips, trivia and proven advice for a natural, low-cost approach for this unique and sensitive part of the country.
what’s called a birdbath is really just a “garden ornament” that birds rarely
use, and becomes a maintenance headache. In reality, anybody who can pour concrete can make what's loosely called a "birdbath". Birds, however, may not give it more than glance before going elsewhere. Address these four things when shopping for a true
·Depth. Most birds are
afraid of deep water (they’re terrible swimmers). The water’s depth should be
no more than 2 to 2½ inches unless you're trying to attract ducks.
·Material. It shouldn’t be
so light that it blows over.Some metals
or resins are good. Concrete is best, but make very sure that it’s a “dense”
concrete that doesn’t harbor algae or soak up water The water freezes and expands in winter to cause cracking, and in warm weather cheap concrete provides a place for algae to grow.
·Ease of cleaning. Birds
like clean water. Algae (which grows in many birdbaths) can be eliminated in a
good birdbath with regular scrubbing. Aeration from a bubbler or dripper helps too. Bleach is only called for if the algae
gets a foothold.
·Location. Place it within
3 to 5 feet of a dense shrub - an “escape route” for birds if a predator (cat?)
appears. Too close and the predator can sneak up on a bird. A half-day of
direct sun is good - afternoon shade is desired in north Texas.
OWEN YOST, in addition to being a
blogger, is a licensed Landscape Architect emeritus who has lived and worked in
north Texas for over 30 years. He is a recipient of a Lifetime Achievement
Award of the Native Plant Society of Texas, and is a member of the American
Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), International Federation of Landscape
Architects, National Wildlife Federation and the Audubon Society. His office is
at Yost87@charter.net in Denton.
Soon, the hordes of Goldfinches that have been
sucking feeders dry will migrate north.We’ll miss ‘em until next November. Their favorite Nyjer thistle seed
won’t keep over the summer, however. So as not to get stuck, next fall, with a bunch
of seed that's no other birds' favorite, when the last Goldfinch leaves, I suggest
you keep feeding whatever Nyjer you have left...don't store it - it won't be any good in the fall. But switch your Nyjer feeders with regular tube feeders.
Mix the leftover Nyjer with Sunflower hearts or Black-oil Sunflower, which
most birds prefer.Then, when Goldfinches migrate north, other birds (Cardinals, Chickadees, Titmice, House Finches etc.) will
move right in to the same feeder.
Many of you have noticed that most
of the little native sparrows and Juncos have already gone north until the
fall. But Hummingbirds will soon fill any void. (By late March, they’ll
probably be here.)
Pick an oak, any oak Oak
trees play host to 534 species of butterflies and moths. Which is of special
interest to those of us in north Texas. Why? - we live in a region called the
“Post Oak Savannah”, where oaks thrive in the environment and like to live naturally. Some of the native 0aks we can
plant to attract butterflies and moths are chinkapin oak, post oak, shumard
oak, bur oak, blackjack oak, sawtooth oak, overcup oak and live oak.
OWEN YOST, in addition to being a blogger, is a licensed Landscape
Architect emeritus who has lived and worked in north Texas for over 30 years.
He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award of the Native Plant Society
of Texas, and is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects
(ASLA), International Federation of Landscape Architects, National Wildlife
Federation and the Audubon Society. His office is at Yost87@charter.net in Denton.