Gardening for the Birds: How to Create a Bird-Friendly Backyard is a wonderful primer for birders who are just getting started with birdscaping (like us) to those who have an already birdy yard they wish to improve on.
The book begins with the basic steps to planning a wildlife-friendly garden and covers what birds need most: food, water, and shelter. Included is a lengthly list of plants useful to birds for nest sites as well as a table showing the dimensions needed for building nest boxes.
Special attention is given to attracting hummingbirds and butterflies including a regional “calendar” of flowers both find most useful. This chart includes pertinent information on light needs, hardiness zones, mature height, flower color, and most importantly, flowering months.
There are several other similar calendars that cover annual and perennial wildflowers, grasses, and a large section on fruiting trees and shrubs.
Further into the book you’ll learn about how to get to know your region and plant your garden accordingly. The author insists on using native plants found within a 100-mile radius of your location.
Information is provided on how to understand your current yard and develop a landscape plan with various habitats mixed in. The author suggests 7 different zones to consider for “an average suburban garden”.
Unfortunately, the book doesn’t include a variety of sample plans to help jumpstart ideas on what plants go well together. There is a basic drawing showing a yard with differing habitat zones, but full plans with lists of plants for each of the geographic regions would have been much appreciated.
The book does cover tips on caring for your bird garden with mulch, fertilizer, pruning, watering, etc. and also how to deal with problems that arise such as cats, nuisance birds, and glass strikes.
The final two sections of the book are plant and bird directories. Each includes wonderful photographs and loads of information. For the plants you will find out what birds are attracted to what as well as the distribution and cultivation of each.
For the bird directory, information on habitat, range, feeding habits, nesting and more is included. A cross-reference of plants the birds use for food and shelter makes it easy to go back to the plant section and read up on what you can add to your garden to help attract the birds you want.
Overall, Gardening for the Birds: How to Create a Bird-Friendly Backyard is jam-packed with wonderful information on a wide variety of plants you can use to attract various birds. While not a complete resource on gardening for wildlife, this book is a great stepping-off point to come up with ideas on planning your bird garden.
One thing I found irritating is the way the page numbers are laid out. They are printed in the spine of the book instead of on the outer edge making it difficult to refer to specific pages. Definitely a design oversight.
Disclaimer: we received this book from the publisher to review on Birdfreak.com. The links are to our Amazon Affiliate account.