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Inviting Birds to Your House - Welcome to the Backyard
By Jayne Rushin

You are not alone, if you are interested in birds and want to invite them into your backyard. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates more than 65 million Americans feed birds. Feeders can be found on apartment balconies as well as in back yards. Birdwatching or "birding," as it is called today, is a hobby that now fascinates all ages. The widespread interest in birding has even created a niche in the travel industry. There are tour organizations with knowledgeable guides, who lead trips devoted entirely to birdwatching.

With rapidly diminishing natural habitat, the backyard birder has the opportunity to make an important contribution to birdlife, by creating a supportive environment. If there is appropriate habitat or cover, an ample water source, and a plentiful food supply, birds will come to a garden.

Not every yard will entice every bird species, but with a little effort, you can attract an amazing variety of birds. Different habitats appeal to different birds----Eastern Bluebirds want open fly space with cover at the perimeter, catbirds and thrashers like piles of leaves and brush, woodpeckers and nuthatches need dead limbs for nest holes---and so it goes with birds.

After the decision is made to invite birds into a yard, usually the first step is to put up a feeder. Of course, food selection is important, but birds also want refuge near a feeder. Most birds like to approach a feeder by first landing in the safety of a nearby shrub or tree, which offers protection from unseen enemies.

Water is another critical element for encouraging birds to drop by your backyard. Birds require water for drinking, bathing, and preening. A water source that fulfills the needs of birds can be an attractive addition to the backyard landscape.

Gardens or yards can be large or small, formal or naturalized, open or wooded and still provide a favorable habitat for birds. Since there are hundreds of shrubs and trees that benefit birds, a successful habitat can be integrated into almost any landscape design.

Birds in the backyard are visually delightful, while their behavior is infinitely fascinating. If your garden is inviting to birds, it will be enticing to butterflies as well. Including birds in your landscape plans will give you the pleasure of their company and the gratification of knowing you have contributed to the creation of new habitat

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