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.
Hummingbirds are one of the most aggressive,
selfish birds we have in north Texas. They’re bullies. Thank heavens they’re so
small or they might try to take over the world…or at least every tree and
birdfeeder in it.Juvenile Hummingbirds,
especially, seem to frequent feeders where they don’t get chased away.
If you have one nectar feeder, you know what we
mean! But if there are two or more feeders in the yard, a “bully” usually has a
tough time claiming them all. Particularly if the line-of-sight between the
feeders is blocked by something like a shrub or corner of the house. The nectar
at one feeder can’t be a lot better than the other, since no Hummingbird likes
settling for second-rate food. Both feeders have to be filled with fresh nectar
and cleaned regularly.In our heat, mold
can grow easily and quickly. I refill our feeders about every 3 to 6 days (depending on the weather), running the
parts under very hot water at the same time. Then, every two or three weeks,
I’ll clean them with a solution of one part vinegar to 10 parts water.
that I never said anything about adding food coloring. That’s a total myth. Red
food dye can cause, according to several research studies, genetic defects in
Hummingbirds. Most nectar feeders are bright-colored anyway, so it’s totally unnecessary
and just not worth the risk.
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.
non-native bird species have moved into North America, most recently the
Eurasian Collared Dove. This bird, originally native to the Indian sub-continent spread
following an accidental release in the Bahamas in the mid-70s. These non-native
species (due mainly to the lack of
natural enemies) will out-compete our native bird species. Recent invaders
likely to be seen in north Texas are the Monk Parakeet and the Nutmeg Mannikin.
Actually, the House Sparrow (really a
Weaver Finch), the Starling, the Rock Dove and the eastern population of
the House Finch are “invaders” too – having been brought here against their
will in the past.
to figure out what kind of bird it is.
I’ve been asked to I.D. a bird. The query goes something like ”the average-size
bird is black, but it has a yellow head”. I instantly know it’s a Yellow-headed
Blackbird. They’re traveling through here now, having spent the winter in Mexico
or the deep, deep south of Texas. Some will stay here all summer, but the majority
will continue north. The male only is black and yellow – the female is all
brown. YHBBs prefer wetlands and open, freshly-cultivated fields. That’s where
their main food source is (insects). They eat seed sometimes, if insects aren’t
handy. They feed and travel in mixed flocks, mainly with the slightly smaller Red-winged
Blackbirds. An interesting phenomena is that YHBBs and other migratory birds
are arriving about 5 days earlier than historical data indicate.What that means is to look sooner
for the many warblers and such that will be moving through 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 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