If you live in Niagara, Ontario, you might have noticed song birds, such as the bright yellow gold finch, the purple finch and woodpeckers, returning to your yard over the past few years. Exposure to DDT made eggshells too thin for nesting birds to hatch and, for decades, song birds that were plentiful during our grandparents’ childhoods became rare to see and hear.
Now, those populations of sweetly singing birds are starting to recover, but with climate change and other world events, our yards have to become more supportive to species growth than ever.
Three tips to make a Bird-Friendly Garden
Keep native plants
The Yarrow Tidbit, the Oxeye Daisy, Coneflower (Echinacea), the blanket flower and Black-eyed Susans are all native plants for Southern Ontario that have beautiful blooms and attract song birds to your yard. Don’t cut off all the seed heads in the autumn and local birds that don’t fly south for the winter, as well as those who stay a little later or return a little earlier, will have a source of food that demands they use their instinctive foraging skills.
Keep a Bird Bath full
In the hot days of summer, keep a bird bath on a cat-proof pedestal near the protective shelter of your trees and shrubs. You only need a little daily fresh water, about a thumb’s length deep at the centre, to keep your garden birds clean and well-hydrated. Be sure to change the water daily and clean the surface of the birdbath weekly to prevent mosquito larvae growth and algae.
Keep the cat inside
Cats are natural hunters to the small song birds. They are not native to North America and our birds have no defences against these perfect predators. If you can’t keep your feline companion indoors, try a harness on a line to keep them contained in their own outdoor territory. A spray bottle of water aimed a neighbourhood cats or strays who might wander in will protect your feathered friends.