Monday, April 14, 2008

The Birds and the Bees

I have always enjoyed watching the wildlife in my garden. I don’t mind sharing (too much) with the rabbits and deer and seeing what else wanders through. When I lived north of Crystal Lake we had deer, racoons, possums, the occasional coyote and, of course, birds. One year for a brief week we had a scarlet tanager at the feeder. As the weather breaks and we get busy with gardening and other activities, let’s not forget the birds. Even if you fed the birds during the winter, with the decline in habitat, they still need supplemental feeding.

Some birds to stick around all winter, such as the goldfinches and the juncoes. Some of the migratory birds have already returned. I’ve seen robins since February. The oriole will be returning shortly. The male arrives first, usually around mid-April, to scout out food sources and nesting sites. If you hope to attract these lovely birds to your garden, put out food now. They will eat from a nectar feeder similar to a hummingbird feeder with orange flavored nectar or you can use an oriole feeder designed to hold an orange half.

Other guests to our garden that we should encourage are bees. Bees are the workhorse of the garden because without them we would have no fruiting crops or seed production of other ornamental plants. Bees are responsible for pollinating over 100,000 species of plants and 130 commercial crops. The best bee pollinator is not the honey bee or the bumble bee but is the orchard mason bee. This is a non-aggressive bee that does not produce honey, live in a hive or take care of its young, therefore they have nothing to be aggressive about. They lay eggs in holes in wood. You can provide bee nesting holes and even buy the bees to introduce into your garden. They do their pollinating in the spring so it is not too late to get them. If you have fruit trees in your garden, this would help in increasing the yield.

No comments: