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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Take that you little interloper, masquerading as a sparrow!


 

 
As you may know, the house sparrow is an undesirable little bird in most areas. It’s not really a true  “sparrow” either, actually being a weaver finch, and having been brought to this country against its will around the late 1800s.  True sparrows migrate, and breed in Canada (mostly).

House Finch
It may take centuries, but a common backyard bird, native to the west coast, and common here, is gradually out-competing it. According to Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology, the House Finch is learning how to get the best nesting sites, food and such - things the pesky house sparrow needs. Neither is common in undeveloped grasslands or forests.
House Finch

 

 

 



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.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Does your yard have the stuff that a Mockingbird eats?


 
N. Mockingbird
About half the diet of a Northern Mockingbird (our state bird!)  is fruits and berries. The other half is insects (including insect-flavored suet, sometimes). As a Landscape Architect in Texas, I’ve seen that they’re partial to native hollies, beautyberry, agarita, soapberry and Mexican plum. However, if all the bugs in your yard are killed, Mockingbirds (typically a very common bird here) will probably go elsewhere.

 

 
 
 
 
 
A moveable feast for birds        Excellent plants for containers in north Texas, to attract birds and butterflies like crazy, are Lantana, Coneflower, Gregg’s Salvia and Mistflower. Large pots of these (odd numbers like 3 or 5 look best) work well on a patio, or anyplace else where lack of space is a concern (like an apartment balcony). In a large grouping of pots, I like to plant one with a decorative native grass like Sideoats Grama.

 

 

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.