Garden Q&A: How to attract birds to your yard? Plant Mother Nature’s bird feeders – Baltimore Sun

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By Miri Talabac Baltimore Sun | Oct 14, 2021 at 7: 00 AM Q: This summer’s mysterious bird illness has me thinking. I’ve become more interested in birds during the past two years and would like to attract them to my yard with plants. Are there favored recommendations? A: Bird-attracting landscaping definitely beats out bird feeders as the preferable way to bring these beauties into yards for easier viewing as a safer environment than a communal feeder. (Also, while you’re at it, look into ways to discourage window strikes since plants, like feeders, could increase encounters with glass.) A cedar waxwing dining on a green hawthorn berry. Bird-attracting landscaping definitely beats out bird feeders as the preferable way to bring these beauties into yards. (Miri Talabac) Plant recommendations are going to be incredibly varied because the diet of birds is so varied, both across species and throughout the year. Site conditions in your garden will narrow-down what may be an overwhelming list of choices. Here are some general tips: plant as much variety as you have room for; plant to provide food for insects, and the birds will follow; and when looking at berry or seed production, consider productivity for each season. Try to focus on native plants only, since birds will deposit their seeds beyond your landscape. To pick a timely category — late-ripening berries — there are some notably popular species. Highly-ranked contenders for both resident and southbound migrant birds include viburnums, dogwoods (trees and shrubs), spicebush, Virginia creeper, Eastern redcedar, magnolia, black tupelo, hackberry, sassafras, bayberry, sumac, hollies, and hawthorn. Cornell’s “All About Birds” web library plus local Audubon Societies are good resources for more thorough information on individual species diet, habitat preferences, and plant suggestions for both foraging and nesting. Q: I’m still learning about a pest that’s relatively new to me: jumping worms. Is there anything I can do this time of year to prevent them from colonizing my yard? A: These invasive worm species can be difficult to control, in part because the egg cases are hard to detect. While adult jumping worms will soon die with freezing weather, their tiny egg cases (also known as egg cocoons) won’t and can easily infiltrate mulch, leaf litter, or soil in plants brought into the yard. To help avoid contamination and unintentionally furthering worm spread, try to keep fallen autumn leaves on your property, using them as mulch or compost. Garden beds can be mulched with whole or chopped leaves instead of shredded bark. This type of natural mulching helps boost biodiversity above and below the soil surface, and the organic matter it adds can help alleviate soil compaction and return nutrients to the root zone. When planting in autumn, you can inspect the soil for signs of jumping worm feeding, and bare-rooting plants when possible removes soil that may contain egg cocoons. More tips and worm life cycle information can be found on our new web page titled “Invasive Jumping Worms.” The page also contains a temporary link to a jumping worm survey being conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum, accessible until mid-November. University of Maryland Extension’s Home and Garden Information Center offers free gardening and pest information at extension.umd.edu/hgic. Click “Ask Extension” to send questions and photos.
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