On Gardening

On Gardening: Bring birds to your garden

McClatchy-Tribune News ServiceFebruary 15, 2013 

LIFE HOME-ONGARDENING 2 MCT

The pine warbler sits on the perch of a rustic looking peanut butter log.

HANDOUT — MCT

As the birds came darting and swooping into the feeders like aerial acrobats, the looks on the children’s faces were my reward.

We’ve just opened our bird-feeding station at the Columbus Botanical Garden, and I wondered if the success I had with peanut butter logs in the Lower Rio Grande Valley could be duplicated in Georgia. The answer is an unequivocal yes, and the good news is you can do it too.

We first designed our area with a 3-foot-tall thicket on the outer perimeter. This serves as a wonderful shelter for little birds that need extra protection. We installed three shallow water stations built from handmade glazed-clay saucers attached to 4-foot-tall log-like posts. The water is changed daily but will soon have a continuous drip. Water is a necessity in creating your backyard feeding station.

Our feeders are attached to 8-foot-tall, tree-like posts. Our black-oiled sunflower feeders are drawing finches in epic proportions, as well as chickadees, but the peanut butter logs are doing their part too. They are bringing in warblers, woodpeckers, tufted titmice and more. It seems every day new birds are finding our feeding area.

Everyone has favorite recipes, including straight peanut butter, crunchy or smooth.

If you are like most, you’ll gravitate to whatever peanut butter is on sale. We mix ours with cornmeal.

Our peanut butter logs are generally about 24 inches in length. Six 3/4-inch holes were drilled a little less than an inch deep. These holes will be filled with peanut butter blend. Some of our feeders have also had little quarter-inch holes drilled below the large ones so that branch-like pieces of wood could be inserted for perches.

While the feeders will do their part to get you hooked, a pair of binoculars will change your world when it comes to birding – once you begin watching their eyes, the rotating of their heads and their graceful motion in flight through the close-up lens.

We began our project by planting native plants that produce berries loved by birds. Native yaupon hollies, American hollies, dogwoods and beautyberry are found throughout our 25 acres, along with my favorite southern wax myrtle, which has been documented to feed 40 species of birds.

No matter where you live, you can bring the world of birding to your yard, a park or a nearby school with feeders, birdbaths or fountains and strong support from native plants. The birds will reward your efforts, and the children who grow up watching and learning about these birds may become environmental heroes just like you.

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