THE DAYS ARE growing shorter and every now and then, a cool breeze gives us a tingle. Preparations begin for all the excitement fall has to offer, but the most important preparations should be in your own backyard. Visitors are coming! They will come from all over the country and their visit will be short. You can make it memorable. Of course, I am speaking about our feathered friends—it is the season of migration!
Now, some of our friends stay year round—cardinals, sparrows, wrens, woodpeckers, blue jays, doves and even some robins. Canadian geese have taken up residence at many of the local ponds along with mallards and muscovys. The “Backyard B&B” is really for the special friends we see just a short time in the spring and fall.
Thistle feeders are great for attracting finches and indigo buntings. Many birds enjoy berries and nuts—if these trees are not plentiful in your garden consider planting a few now. Pine siskins will love the commercial birdseed you place in your feeders. You may also see some cedar waxwings, juncos, black capped chickadees and many varieties of the titmouse.
Don’t forget to clean and freshen the birdbaths as many visitors will enjoy a drink and a good wash down. If you don’t have one available, just place a large plant saucer on a stand and keep it full of fresh water.
One of the most amazing visitors will be the many varieties of hummingbirds that pass through our area on their way across the Gulf of Mexico. Hummingbird feeders come in many shapes, sizes and price ranges. Some can be suction-cupped to a window. This is a great way to watch these aerial wonders up close and personally! Fill the feeders with a mixture of one-part sugar to two-parts water. Heat this to dissolve the sugar, let it cool then fill and wait to be in awe.
The best way to really enjoy the “Backyard B&B” is to observe early in the morning and late in the afternoon. Get a bird book that has pictures of different species and a pair of binoculars. It would also be nice to keep a journal of different birds you have seen and what garden offerings they have enjoyed. A garden does not have to be all work! There is no greater pleasure than sharing the fruits of your everyday labor with our fellow creatures. Enjoy this fleeting season and make plans for your “Backyard
B&B” to be even better when your visitors return in the spring.