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Provide Habitat for the Birds

Create a haven for migratory birds

Birds are more than beautiful visitors to your lawn and garden. They are also an important component of a healthy local ecosystem.
    Here are a few simple steps to keep birds safe.

Offer Food and Shelter
    Many birds will simply be using your yard as a rest stop on a long migration. Bushes and trees with berries are bird magnets. Robins, for example, adore berries, as do migra­tory hermit thrushes. Keep this in mind, and fill your yard with native species of trees, shrubs and flowers to provide shelter and food.
    Removing invasives is part of going natural. Learn to identify and eradicate invasives at Montpelier Mansion’s invasive plant-removal workday October 22 at 10am (301-377-7817; History.pgparks.com). You’ll enjoy the beauty of Montpelier’s landscape while helping to protect it and learning from park naturalists how to apply the skills to your own yard and garden.
    Promote a natural food source for birds by avoiding the use of pesticides and fertilizers that kill off the insects that birds need to thrive.
    Set out a variety of foods and feeders to attract a wide array of birds. Feeders keep foods high and dry. Basic types are tray or platform feeders, food-dispensing hoppers and tube feeders. Favorite commercial foods include corn, millet, Nyjer, peanuts, safflower, black-oil sunflower seeds, and suet. Add nuts, fruit and mealworms to the menu, too. Fresh, clean water — and only plain water — is essential. Birds love heated birdbaths in winter. Practice good hygiene: Regularly clean feeders, feeding sites and birdbaths.

Prevent Bird Strikes
    Ideally, bird feeders should be located within three feet of a window or more than 30 feet from a window.
    Ninety-eight million birds are killed annually in the U.S. when colliding with windows, according to Western EcoSystems Technology estimates. Stem the loss of life by exploiting the keen vision of birds.
    “When windows are visible to birds, they will enjoy a safer migration,” says Spencer Schock. His company, WindowAlert, makes decals and UV Liquid that effectively prevent window strikes.
    An easy fall project is applying these decals and UV Liquid, which create a visual barrier for birds. The ultraviolet reflective coating looks like etched glass to humans but is quite visible to birds. Find more best practices at windowalert.com.

Birds and Cats Don’t Mix
    Pet cats can prove hazardous to birds. Keep cats inside or monitor their time outdoors to prevent attacks. For shelter for feeding birds, provide shrubs, trees and brush piles.