I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Genevieve Schmidt, landscape designer and well-known garden writer. Her work has appeared in many publications including Garden Design Magazine, Fine Gardening magazine and the Christian Science Monitor. Visit Genevieve’s website, North Coast Gardening: Gardening in the Pacific Northwest, for lots of helpful information.
Genevieve asked me some questions about how gardeners and landscape pros can attract and support birds in the winter. Below is an excerpt from the interview.
Gen: “What long-term things can we do to provide better habitat in future years?”
Kim: Your long-term strategy should be to create a robust, bio-diverse ecosystem that supports many forms of life. We live in food webs where every living thing is connected to every other living thing. Every design choice we make and every plant we select, impacts the health of our ecosystem. And, it starts all the way down on the ground with healthy soil.
With regard to habitat, not all birds are attracted to the same layers of the landscape. Birds such as hawks prefer to be at the top of large canopy trees. Some birds, like chickadees, like to be in the midstory; other birds, such as doves, prefer understory trees and shrubs. Then there are birds that nest in the herbaceous layer, including waterfowl.
If you want to support cavity-nesting birds, like woodpeckers, it’s important to leave some standing tree snags. Just make sure that your home is not a target in the event of a tree failure. Simply cutting back a tree snag to a shorter, more tolerable height, may give you peace of mind, and a home to a cavity-nesting bird.
Our natural landscapes are usually layered, but we often forget to plant that way in our home landscapes to support varied species of wildlife. Use healthy natural areas as your reference, staying true to your region and your site. Try to transition your garden design to reflect those layers – you will be rewarded with much more bird activity if you do.
From Kim Eierman at EcoBeneficial!