104281aWhen new customers come into our store and ask how they can attract birds to their yard, my first recommendation is to create an inviting habitat.

Providing birdseed and water is good, but planting a variety of plants in your yard is even better.

Several years ago when we landscaped our yard, I gave our landscaper specific guidelines on plant selections. I told him that I wanted everything he planted to provide a benefit for wild birds. We planted berry-producing shrubs for robins, bluebirds, Phainopeplas and Cedar Waxwings. We planted flowering plants to create nectar for hummingbirds and orioles, and we planted seed-producing plants for songbirds.

I am disappointed when I see yards that are ‘landscaped’ with extensive amounts of decorative rock. I tell people that rocks are not a form of landscaping. Rock yards are too sterile – there aren’t places for birds to forage, rest or rear their young. Where will birds and critters seek shelter to escape a cold winter’s night or a sudden monsoon downpour?

Providing native, drought-tolerant plants is critical to having a yard that is low maintenance, yet wildlife friendly. When you spend time in nature, you can’t help but notice how the Prescott area is surrounded by native plants that are uniquely adapted to our elevation, temperature and precipitation.

My recommendation to you is to try and mimic in your yard what would naturally occur where you live. Native plants such as pinyon pine, juniper, live scrub oak, manzanita, silk tassel, mountain mahogany and cliff rose are naturally drought-tolerant, disease-resistant and thrive in this area. All of these native plants help create a ‘home’ for the birds and animals that naturally occur here.

Another thought is to keep a log of the nature that frequents your yard. I have some customers that have observed over a period of five to seven years more than 100 different bird species in their yard. To me that is just remarkable.

I encourage you to consider certifying your yard as a Backyard Wildlife Habitat with the National Wildlife Federation. Check out their website at www.nwf.org for more information.