As a great way to reconnect with nature, bird watching is becoming increasingly popular and can even be done from the comfort of your own home. Jim Nordgren, executive director of the Bedford Audubon Society, has some valuable suggestions for attracting feathered friends to your backyard.
Start by simply doing nothing: Make your lawn more bird-friendly by putting away the lawn mower and leaf blower -- let your grass grow, leave some leaves on the lawn, and cut back on any lawn chemicals. Then, think about providing food, water, and shelter for these beautiful creatures by installing a birdhouse, building a bluebird box, hanging bird feeders, or installing birdbaths. Jim also recommends using sprigs of holly or willow and crabapple branches as "natural bird feeders."
If attracting birds to your property, you'll need to be well-stocked with birdseed. To keep the birdseed freshly stored and organized, use galvanized cans. Fill a separate can with each type of seed you are stocking, and then label each can for quick and easy access.
Unfortunately, birds in the wild are disappearing -- quickly. The Audubon Society recently published a study indicating that 1/3 of birds are endangered or in steep decline across the United States. Overdevelopment has taken away many habitats, pesticide use is killing about 70 million birds a year, and climate change has forced many birds to move north by about 35 miles. But there is something we can all do: Be smart consumers. Purchase shade-grown coffee from plantations that do not cut down their trees and support your local farmers by shopping at farmers' markets and buying organic products whenever possible.