Our GardenLine appearance this Saturday will be at the brand-new Wild Birds Unlimited store in Pearland, and I want to remind you that our area's birds have important needs as we head into the summer months.
If you're interested in attracting birds to your yard and keeping them comfortable, so they'll stay around for your enjoyment, please remember their top four requirements:
1 WATER - It's the most important. And providing it is the most effective way to attract the widest variety of birds to your back yard. Not all birds eat seed, but they all need water. Moving water is the most attractive, and a dripper or Water Wiggler will create ripples on the surface so birds will notice it. Movement also makes mosquitoes think water is not stagnant, so they won't lay eggs in it.
2 FOOD - A study by Millikin University in Illinois found that birds with access to supplemental feeders are healthier than those without them. Wintertime is when people most often think about providing food, since it can help in periods of extended cold and wet weather. But providing food year around is important. In the spring, nesting birds need to find food quickly so they don't have to leave the nest for too long. In the summer, it's exciting to watch parents bring their chicks to the feeders. And providing high-protein foods in late summer helps birds develop healthy feathers as they molt. Feeder visits often slow down in fall, but can be fun to watch hummingbirds migrate through the area in September, and winter residents begin showing up in October and November.
3 NESTING - Birds need places to raise their young. Some, such as Carolina wrens, Carolina chickadees, purple martins and eastern screech owls, will use nesting boxes. Others will nest in shrubs and trees. Cardinals and mockingbirds will choose shrubs, and blue jays will nest in the trees. Providing nesting spots could bring the enjoyment of watching nesting behavior in the spring and summer.
4 SHELTER — Birds have a tough life. They have to find enough to eat while making sure they aren't eaten by something else. Providing thick shrubs will give birds a place to hide from predators and protection from bad weather. Building a brush pile can also give birds additional shelter.
There are now six Wild Birds Unlimited stores in our region, and you can't go wrong by visiting them on a consistent basis. They can help you with providing the Four Basic Needs that will increase the variety and number of birds in your backyard. And they can teach you about the specific foods and feeders that are most likely to attract a certain bird or critter. Use the ZIP Code tool at www.wbu.com to find the one nearest you.
I'll be at the new store in Pearland 11 a.m.-1 p.m. this Saturday. It's at the corner of Pearland Parkway and FM 518 (Broadway), and I'll have plenty of KTRH goodies to give away. I'll also have my new book, "Texas Tough Gardening," for sale, and you can bring gardening questions and plant samples directly to me, so I can "get a pair of eyes" on your problem.