I think I get my love of birdwatching from my dad. He always had feeders out in our garden in England and there was a constant and varied stream of feathered visitors each day. On country walks he would point out various birds.

I tried to encourage birds to come to the feeders in the garden of my cottage, with some success. But I think having Merlin, the mighty hunter, hanging around licking his lips, might have limited the activity on the feeders.

Now Eric and I have moved into our new house, with the pine tree in the back garden, the oak tree on the empty lot next door and the nearby fields, my favorite pastime is sitting either in the breakfast nook, or on the patio, and watching the myriad birds come and go.

I can identify most of them, although I've had to refer to books to identify which particular type of sparrow we have (who knew there were so many?)

Because of our spinkler system, I haven't quite figured out the best location to put bird feeders where they won't get wet. But in the meantime, I hit upon an idea which has proved very popular with the local birds.

Each morning I sprinkle birdseed along the top bar of the fence and along the top of the wall at the bottom of the garden.

This allows the flocks of sparrows, bluejays, red cardinals, doves and crows to perch on the fence and snack all morning.

A suet feeder hanging from the tree is a favorite with the woodpecker who in this photo is seen defending his/her territory from another woodpecker.

With my new camera, I can get some great closeup shots of the birds on the fence, while sitting in comfort in the breakfast nook. If I'm patient, and look carefully, I can get photos of them up in the pine tree too (see below)

Before Hurricane Ike came to town, the most frequent visitors to the garden were Mourning Doves. I just love the sound they make and enjoyed hearing them and seeing them out there. For some reason, after Hurricane Ike, I didn't see any for months. Finally, in mid-January, I heard one, but didn't see it. A week later I looked out to see this guy (see below) on the fence, wondering where all the seed had gone (the sparrows had cleaned up earlier in the day)

My plan now is to create a wildlife garden. I know that eventually the lot next to us will get built on, and that means a large chunk of habitat will be gone. What I want to do is create a multi-level shrubbery along the back wall of the garden that will provide shelter and food for the birds to make up for what they will lose when the tree goes.

You can follow my progress on my gardening pages.

I'm off to a good start already - having the pine tree in the yard was good planning on our part and since moving in, we've added a couple of Savannah hollies, - Ilex x attenuata 'Savannah' which produce a lot of bright red berries, some flowering crape myrtles - Lagerstroemia indica, and oleanders - Nerium oleander, a Vitex Tree, Vitex agnus-castus also known as Chaste Lilac and Monk's Pepper and a Chinese Fringe plant - Loropetalum chinense.


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