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The Bird Garden

The Bird GardenNo garden is so small, nook or cranny so crowded with plants or garden furniture that in some way it cannot be made attractive to the birds.

Our eyes are fast failing us, for we move so quickly from one place to another or from one thing to another that we are not exercising our souls to see the beauty in the heart of some of our very small flowers. Our ears are also dull, for we find fewer and fewer keen, intelligent, and appreciative listeners in our big world of many sounds. Why not take every opportunity to train our eyes to see the beautiful and our ears to hear and enjoy the various songs and cheerful twittering of these neighbours!

Let us, therefore, make every effort to encourage our worthWhile feathered friends to investigate our gardens, orchards, and homes. Of course, there are some birds, like the White-throated Sparrow, that pause but a little while on their flight from the Southland to the great north country, but there are others, like the Robin and Bluebird, who not only become sociable creatures, but who earn their place by destroying many insect enemies. Then we have a group of brave little creatures that stay all the year with us, facing the bleak days of winter as they scrutinize the bark of our trees for insect eggs and pupae, but who exist mostly on seeds.

It is for these bird relatives that make their home with us all year through that we should build special shelters and feeding stations, especially for winter. Around these practical accessories of the garden one may plant ever­greens, especially for winter effect and protection.

It is well, then, before completing the plan of our gar­dens, to consider a list of plants that will attract the birds as well as fit into our scheme of planting. From the very beginning keep in mind that bird shelters, baths, and feeding stations are not and should never be classed as ornaments of the garden, for they are really a necessity.

You may now bring your creative imagination into play in the construction of attractive as well as practical bird houses, baths, and feeding stations, and in the fitting of these, in an attractive manner, into your garden scheme.

Happily our feathered friends of the garden do not all demand the upper apartments of an old Apple tree or the front apartments of a graceful Elm, for we find some of our most cheerful aryd valuable birds nesting in low­growing shrubs,
vines, and even on the soil. Some of our birds like hollow trees or their equivalent. Among the most valuable of these home seekers are the Flickers, Sap­suckers, Red­headed, Downy, and Hairy Wood­peckers, Blue­birds,Chickadees, Nuthatches, Owls, and Fly­catchers.

The Phoebe loves to build on beams, while the Barn Swallow builds her little feather-lined clay bracket high on the rafters of a barn. The Jenny Wren, a most sociable little bird, loves a little box on our porch. We may aid the Robin in building her nest by placing a pan of moist clay out of the reach of cats. This is especially true if one lives in a sandy country. No house or shelter will attract the Baltimore oriole, for she desires to build her own cradle and to swing it far out on an Elm limb.

The feeding station should be so placed that it is protected from the north winds. About it may be planted evergreens, and over it the twining feelers of Woodbine, Honeysuckle, or Bittersweet.

Birds are fond of suet, which may be placed in an open mesh bag and hung on limbs or placed in the feeding station. They are also fond of minced raw meat, sunflower seed, buckwheat, cracked corn, cracked wheat, coconut meat, millet seed, nut meats, pumpkin and squash seed, crumbs of dry bread, and rice.

Remember not only their desire for food, but that they must have protection if we are to gain their confidence. Their worst enemies are the boy with air rifle and sling shot, prowling cats, red squirrels, field mice, and snakes. The boy we can to a large degree educate, but we must use wire screens or an inverted pan over the post on which the feeding station is located or a wire collar about the trunk of the tree to keep away the cat. The red squirrel is much harder to control and must be destroyed. Field mice and snakes are also deadly enemies to birds that nest on the ground.

In some secluded corner one may successfully fit a bird bath or drinking pool where the birds may meet. There is no limit to the forms and shapes of bird baths, from a great rock with a saucer cut out of it to the most ornamental form made of concrete or marble. It is well to keep in mind, in building a bird bath or drinking fountain, that there must be spaces on which the bird may perch and that the edge of the pool should not be more than one and one half inches deep. The bottom of the pool should be covered with pebbles and always kept clean. It may gradually slope down in the centre to a depth of four, inches. Whether the birds' watering place is a sunken pan on the lawn, a rock, or an ornamental pan on a pedestal, the water must be kept clean.

It is a good plan to have a tree, tall bush, or post behind or close to the bird bath so that the birds may not have far to fly from the water to the perch on which they may sit and dry; and frequently they take a second dip.

When we come to fitting into our wee garden the bright­berried shrubs and vines, the evergreens for secluded spots and warmth, and the flowers for their colour and seeds, we may find the following list of plants of some aid in making our selection.

The fruits of those marked with three asterisks are known to have been eaten by thirty or more different species of birds, while those marked with two asterisks are known to have been eaten by at least ten species of birds, as indicated by stomach examinations. Those marked with one asterisk are known from general observation to be very attractive to birds.