Jim Williams has been watching birds and writing about their antics since before "Gilligan's Island" went into reruns. Join him for his unique insights, his everyday adventures and an open conversation about the birds in your back yard and beyond.

Landscaping for backyard birding

Posted by: Jim Williams under Bird books, Birds in the backyard Updated: November 5, 2013 - 11:48 PM

“Bird Homes and Habitats,” a new book about making your backyard bird-friendly, features a Duluth resident who has done so. Dudley Edmondson, an active Minnesota birder, and his wife Nancy describe their improvement project along with 14 other homeowners in this book, “Bird Home and Habitats.”

It’s one of the books in the Backyard Bird Guide series from the magazine “BirdWatcher’s Digest” and its editor, Bill Thompson III. It carries the Peterson Field Guide imprimatur.

Photos and text guide you from project beginning to end. There are lessons to learn about food, water, cover, and nesting opportunities, the latter focusing on bird boxes. Yards large and small are included.

One of the smallest, half of a California lot 60 by 120 feet (the house sits on the other half), is described by owner Alvaro Jaramillo as a “pretty lame backyard” when he and his wife purchased the home new.

Jaramillo and his wife changed the lot from lame to birdy with native and drought-resistant plants and shrubs placed to form a thicket for winter cover.

The Edmondsons needed to replace people-friendly landscaping with bird-friendly. They began with the soil, followed with native and bird-friendly trees and shrubs. The latter focused on fruit-bearing varieties. They used highbush cranberry, juneberry, chokecherry, and elderberry. The mountain ash trees that came with the house provide another bird-favorite fruit.

They have feeding stations and nest boxes. Edmondson wants to create additional shrubby and brushy areas for nesters.

The success stories fill the back of the book. The first half offers instructions on all the things you might want to do to make your yard a welcome habitat for birds. 

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