One of the many joys of spring that I look forward to is the return of migratory birds to our yard. When we lived at nearly 8,000 feet in the mountain foothills outside Boulder, Colorado, we always delighted in seeing the first mountain bluebird pair to make a reconnaissance mission in early March, then settle into a nest a few weeks later. Now that we live at a lower elevation on the edge of the plains, I listen with anticipation for the season’s first meadowlark.
Many Natural Habitat Adventures trips visit incredible birding areas, like Panama and Costa Rica. But you don’t necessarily have to travel to enjoy the songs and plumage of a variety of birds as they make their annual seasonal flight. The National Wildlife Federation offers these tips for attracting migratory birds to your own backyard:
• Keep dead trees. Dead trees provide cavity-dwelling places for birds to raise young and collect insects for food. Many species will also seek shelter from bad weather inside these hollowed out trees.
• Eliminate pesticides from your yard. Even those pesticides that are not directly toxic to birds can pollute waterways and reduce insects that birds rely on for food.
• Prevent birds from hitting your windows. Move indoor plants away from windows so as not to confuse birds or plant shrubs in front of them. Additionally, a variety of decals and treatments are available to create a visible alert to birds.
• Keep feeders and birdbaths clean. This helps birds avoid disease and can help keep mosquitoes at bay. Create a diverse backyard habitat. Plant native grasses, flowers and shrubs that attract local birds. A variety of plants will provide birds with food, shelter, places to raise young and even protection from predators.