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.
Whenever I talk with other amateur birdwatchers, one question that almost
always gets asked is “how do I get birds to come to my yard?”.The key is fresh seed!! You can have an
expensive, gigantic birdfeeder located in your yard’s birdiest place. But if
it’s filled with stale, un-nutritious birdseed, birds will look elsewhere in a
The seed you offer birds must be
unquestionably fresh. For them, it’s a matter of life and death. Birds
absolutely have to get top nutrition from all the food they eat. Theeey d9in’t
caremif it cost you a fdew cents less. All they cvare abour is gettinjmg ther
nutrition to make it through bad weather, or be able to attract a mate, or fly
well enough to escape a predator, or fight off disease (take your pick - they could
all end the same way).
To humans, birdseed all looks the
same; but a wild bird can tell instantly if it’s been sitting in a warehouse or
on a store shelf too long.When seed is
harvested, it has 100% of the naturally nutritious oil content. The longer it
sits idly on a shelf, drying out, the less natural oil content it has - and the less
attractive it is to a bird.
A bird has the ability to tell if a
seed he holds in his beak is worth eating or not. He can tell in a
micro-second, and may just throw it on the ground and look for a more
nutritious seed.They’re not being
fussy, they’re just being practical. Some seed packages contain a lot of cheap
filler. Or seed that our Texas birds don’t eat, like corn. Some packages
contain a lot of non-seed junk; plant stalks, empty hulls, twigs, weed stems
etc. You pay for this stuff, but wild birds won’t touch it.
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.
This time of year Red-winged Blackbirds are throughout north Texas. The
Females are a non-descript gray and black. The male has reddish patches (about the
size of a quarter) on each wing. These are used to claim and defend a territory. When the
red “epaulets” were colored black in an experiment by researchers, the male
usually lost its territory.
They often hang out and hunt in large flocks, which may have some Crows,
Grackles and Cowbirds in it.
A fable from another era about mothballs Loose
mothballs often get eaten by wild birds (which have no sense of smell) with
very unhealthy results. I recommend a cluster of 6 or 8 mothballs however,
bundled up in something like an old sock, to repel certain wild animals and
loose dogs (which is a subject in itself). It’s NO LONGER a responsible
recommendation to scatter mothballs on the ground. This is no longer suggested
by researchers, or any knowledgeable or environmentally-aware person.
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.