In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
California poppies attract birds as well as people to spring and summer gardens.
Attracting Birds to Your Garden
Encourage birds to visit your garden by providing them with their favorite menus, houses and nesting platforms, and fresh water. By providing these enticements year-round, birds will repay you by keeping insect populations down and by singing to their -- and your -- heart's content.
For berry-eaters, such as cedar waxwings, grosbeaks, robins, and woodpeckers, include dogwoods, hawthorns, mahonias, mountain ash, pyracanthas, toyons, and viburnums (the snowball types don't bear fruit).
For seed- and insect-eaters, such as chickadees, goldfinches, quail, and towhees, include annuals such as sweet alyssum, California poppies, and forget-me-nots. Alders, birches, ceanothus, maples, and rosemary can fit well into small gardens; more space is required for oaks, pines, sycamores, and willows.
For nectar-eaters, such as hummingbirds, include acacias, aloes, bottlebrush, grevilleas, melaleucas, and flowering quince. In colder areas, plant honeysuckle, manzanita, and perennials like coralbells, red hot pokers, and penstemons.
Odds and Ends
Encourage birds to build their nests in your garden by providing a box full of nesting material: lint from the clothes dryer, threads and small scraps of soft cloth, and other bits and pieces of string and fuzz. Attach the container to a tree or fence, and let the birds help themselves.
Place some colored marbles or pebbles in the bottom of a birdbath to make it more appealing, especially when the marbles sparkle in the sunlight.
Make a birdfeeder from a coconut shell. Drill a hole in the top of the shell (a screw-type cork-puller made for wine bottles works well) and drain the milk. Saw out one-fourth of the shell, leaving the drilled hole in the larger portion. Carefully chip out the coconut meat. Choose an area outdoors that will not be threatened by cats, and where you will not care that spilled seed will sprout. Hang the shell with a wire threaded through the hole, and fill it with seeds.
Hang an entire sunflower seed head in an old plant or in a clothes hanger on a tree limb, fence, or post so birds can pick their own. This self-service cafeteria also saves you the work of separating the seeds from the head.
Care to share your gardening thoughts, insights, triumphs, or disappointments with your fellow gardening enthusiasts? Join the lively discussions on our FaceBook page and receive free daily tips!