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Gardening to Attract Songbirds

Songbirds are a great addition to the garden. Besides the fact they are interesting to watch and great to listen to, they play an important roll in organic gardening. Many of the songbirds eat insect pests. For example: Chickadees and Titmice eat scale, moths, caterpillars, flies, beetles, and plant lice; Nuthatches eat ants, scale, moth eggs and caterpillars; and Wrens eat ants, millipedes, grasshoppers, flies, snails, and beetles.

An added benefit to attracting songbirds, it is a great way to introduce young people to nature, and bird watching is an activity the whole family can enjoy.

Some of the common songbirds of Missouri include: Cardinals, Robin, Nuthatch, Bluebird, Sparrows, Finches, Wrens, Junco, Titmouse.

According to the Audubon society: There is no single “ideal,” no formula that says you must have so many of this and so much of that for your yard to be vital. We’ll suggest particular ingredients and you mix and match to suit your tastes and desires. Though you’ll be designing and planting your space with a purpose, there’s room for imagination and fun. When you view your yard as “habitat,” your ecological awareness will be heightened. For instance, you’ll begin looking at plants for their edible offerings: Do they bear fruit, nuts, seeds, nectar? Your yard will be practical but bountiful as well.

The objective is to increase food and water sources for wildlife, shelter and nesting opportunities, native plantings, and biodiversity while decreasing invasive plant sprawl, lawn size, water and pesticide use, and polluted runoff. As you change or introduce an element, ask “Who or what will benefit from this action?” and “How does it affect the environment beyond my home?”

Remember that the enhancement of your outdoor environment will not be achieved overnight. Approach your mission simply and wisely, with small steps and patience. Think of it as you would your wardrobe. You wouldn’t throw out all your clothes and accouterments at once and start anew each season; rather, you continually replace and add new items over time. In your yard, each action you take will improve the health and wealth of your habitat.

Other great sources for information on songbirds include: Cornell Lab of Ornithology

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