by Barbara Jividen
For a small investment and a few days of work, we created an incredible photo op right in our own backyard!
When a pair of Tree Swallows began nesting in an old bluebird box in our backyard, we decided that we may well as take some photographs and add them to our stock files of bird photos. Since the area around the bird box was one that we had chosen for a flowerbed anyway, we decided to quickly finish it to create a nicer backdrop for the swallows.
The new flowerbed now contains Day Lilies, Butterfly Bushes, Purple Coneflowers, Hostas, Coreopsis, Rhododendrons, and several shrubs. But before we could even set the plants into the ground, butterflies, hummingbirds, and songbirds began to visit the plants.
Consequently, we took a little extra time and expanded our “job” by setting out a few feeders—nectar for hummingbirds; Niger seeds, primarily for Goldfinches; Safflower seeds and Black-Oil Sunflower seeds for many other species of songbirds. To finish the feeding stations, we set out a mixture of nuts and suet for three species of woodpeckers that typically visit our area.
The flurry of birds and butterflies was so great that we decided to set up a viewing blind to make our daily stints in the yard more productive and comfortable. Our list of photos in just four weeks includes the: American Goldfinch, Black-capped Chickadee, Bluebird, Blue Jays, Brown Thrasher, Cardinal, Carolina Wren, Cowbird, Gray Catbird, Indigo Bunting, Mourning Dove, Rufus-sided Towhee, Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, and Red-bellied Woodpecker. This is in addition to the Tree Swallows, hummingbirds, and butterflies!
The project was easy to do and overwhelmingly successful. The bonus of sweet-smelling flowers and songbird chatter made this a project that we would highly recommend to any nature photographer. All creatures—wildlife and those who take their pictures—are happy!
Here are a few resources to help you get started:
Bird Watchers Digest has information of feeding birds, building bird houses and tips on bird gardening.
The Audubon has tips on backyard bird feeding and how to attract wildlife at home.
Cornell University has Project Feeder Watch that has excellant tips on bird watching and feeding.