Naturally Native: Creating a Woodland Garden for the Birds

Newsletter explores the importance of using native trees, shrubs and plants to attract birds

Subscribers will soon be introduced to the first Ferns & Feathers newsletter designed for Woodland Gardeners looking to attract, feed and photograph backyard birds.

The name, Naturally Native, evolved after much thought. In just the first six months of writing this blog, I’ve come to realize the importance of using native plants in our gardens. It’s not just the latest trend in gardening inspired by environmentalists in the age of climate change. It is a matter of life and death. Maybe not for us humans in the immediate future, but certainly for the wildlife that shares our world.

It’s just a matter of time before the absence of native plants in our gardens begins to have a detrimental effect on all of us. It has actually already begun to play a role in our lives but we may not have realized it quite yet. Insects that depend on particular native plants as a food source are being threatened as those plants slowly disappear from our landscapes. The birds that depend on that particular insect to feed their nestlings are being threatened as it becomes more and more difficult to find enough insects to keep their babies alive.

A recent report shows that the North American bird population has decreased by 2.9 billion breeding adults, a net loss of 29 per cent over the last half-century. Scientists have identified habitat loss as the biggest reason for the decline. Habitat loss can mean many things. The loss of habitat is directly related to the loss of our native plants.

The first Naturally Native newsletter coming out later this month. It’s still not too late to sign up for your free digital copy

The first Naturally Native newsletter coming out later this month. It’s still not too late to sign up for your free digital copy

Now, throw in the ever increasing number of suburban eco-terrorists. You know that neighbour down the street who fogs his yard to ensure every mosquito within a mile of his property is killed so he can go out with his buddies and have a beer without being bitten. Every spider, every creepy crawly has to be eliminated … every snake destroyed. Massive expanses of perfect lawn – a monoculture that supports few if any living things – have taken over where forests or prairie grassland once existed.

The landscaping companies who move in with their gas-powered, noisy machines disrupting the peace of the neighbourhood. Those weed-free companies that care for lawns the homeowners can’t be bothered to take responsibility for themselves, spraying trees in the spring, routine spraying throughout the summer and a fall cleanup to ensure that any chance of insects who use them to overwinter will not survive.

In many areas, even flowers are no longer wanted. To many homeowners, a low-maintenance landscape means fake grass, a massive deck, a concrete walkway, a few grasses and maybe a sterile tree in the corner of the yard that never gets bigger than 10 -15 feet and is not bothered by any “pests.”

That’s not what this newsletter is going to be about.

The focus will always be on using native plants because these are the drivers to attract the greatest variety of birds to your backyard and keep them there maybe to set up a nest.

Backyard bird feeding is not all about setting up a feeder, although feeders are certainly an important way to attract a variety of birds. We will discuss the best feed to attract various birds, how to provide water to birds in winter and some of the best nesting boxes to create safe homes for the birds, butterflies and bees.

For those who like to document their yards, the newsletter will offer tips on how to best photograph your garden and the wildlife that lives there. Maybe you are just looking to improve your pictures for social media, or maybe you are looking for ideas to take your hobby to a higher level; either way, the newsletter will offer tips to help you reach your goals.

I’m extremely proud of the first newsletter. The highlight is the first of a three-part woodland landscaping plan to help readers envision a typical, new, suburban woodland backyard aimed at attracting birds.

We have a feature on two Toronto architects from France who have designed the ultimate bird feeder and they are offering our readers a special discounted price. Just in time for the perfect Christmas gift.

We have features on getting closer to backyard birds for photography and the importance of using native plants in the garden. We also put a focus on two popular backyard birds and how to attract them to the yard with both native plants and backyard feeders.

I hope that readers who have not signed up for the free newsletter will take the time to join our group. For anyone who prefers not to sign up, the newsletters will soon be available on the Ferns & Feathers’ website on-line store for a reasonable charge.

• This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you) I try to only endorse products I have either used, have complete confidence in, or have experience with the manufacturer. Thank you for your support. This blog would not be possible without your continued support.

Vic MacBournie

Vic MacBournie is a former journalist and author/owner of Ferns & Feathers. He writes about his woodland wildlife garden that he has created over the past 25 years and shares his photography with his readers.

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