How-to books offer guidance on creating bird-friendly yards and building nest boxes

12/12/2013 | 0

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A pair of Western Bluebirds guard their nest box. Photo by Steven Grogger

It takes a special person to decide, “I’m not just going to watch birds. I’m going to help them by planting a bird-friendly garden and maintaining birdhouses.” After all, the cultural norm is to fertilize, water, and mow a golf-course-green lawn and to plant showy exotic flowers — neither of which will interest most native birds.

Gardening-for-the-Birds-171The good news is that if you want to turn your yard into bird habitat, local and national organizations and quite a few books are available to help you. Two just-published titles on birdhouses and bird gardens are among the best we’ve seen.

In Gardening for the Birds, landscape designer and wildlife artist George Adams describes how to develop a landscape plan, lists the best native plants for five regions of North America, and plots blooming times for hummingbird and butterfly flowers and wildflowers.

Half of his copiously illustrated book is devoted to two directories: The first provides advice on cultivating trees, shrubs, flowers, and cacti that benefit birds. The second notes the breeding and winter ranges, habitat requirements, and nesting and feeding habits of 64 “favorite and beloved North American garden birds.”

Birdhouse-Book-171One look at the cover of Margaret A. Barker and Elissa Wolfson’s Audubon Birdhouse Book will tell you that it’s a how-to guide to building, placing, and maintaining nest boxes. What is not apparent at first glance is that the book contains plans for the most recent nest-box innovations, including the Xbox, a simple shelter that expert bluebirders designed to be more useful to bluebirds and other birds.

Boxes and nesting shelves for more than 20 species are included, as well as short essays on the special people who pioneered the creation of birdhouses when no books were available to guide them.

 

How-to books

Audubon Birdhouse Book: Building, Placing, and Maintaining Great Homes for Great Birds
Authors: Margaret A. Barker, Elissa Wolfson, Chris Willett, contributor
Publisher: Voyageur Press, 2013
160 pages, $24.99 paper

Gardening for the Birds: How to Create a Bird-Friendly Backyard
Author: George Adams
Publisher: Timber Press, 2013
444 pages, $24.95 paper

Publishers and authors:

If you’ve brought out a book that we should consider reviewing, send it here:

BirdWatching Magazine
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Braintree, MA 02184
mail@birdwatchingdaily.com