Monday, August 31, 2009

Helping Our Winged Pollinators

I have mentioned before that I try to make my balcony an attraction for various winged pollinators. I found these additional hints for a backyard recently and thought I would share. Unfortunately, my belief is that winged pollinators will only return when enough people (just like you and I) take it upon themselves to turn whatever resources they have into havens of respite for our winged friends.

There are a number of ways in which you can make your yard more hospitable to wildlife, and many of them require very little effort or maintenance:

1. Build a brush pile. Start with some larger logs, then pile on smaller branches.

2. Make or buy a toad house. Place a chipped ceramic flower pot upside-down (with a hole large enough for a toad to enter), or prop the edge of the flowerpot up on a stone.

3. Place dog fur, cat fur, bunny fur, and even your own hair clippings outside for birds to use in their nests. You can place the hair/fur in a net bag, or lay it out on bushes.

4. Lay off the pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides. Look into natural and organic remedies for lawn and garden problems.

5. Install a birdbath. Change the water every two to three days in warm weather, and use a heater in cold months to keep the water from freezing. Don’t warm up the water too much, however; birds might be tempted to bathe and then end up freezing to death.

6. Put up a bat house to encourage the presence of these shy animals. Bats can eat up to 1,000 mosquitoes in an hour. Plus they’re just really cute.

7. Plant native species that produce yummy edibles for wildlife. Consult a local garden center for plants native to your area.

8. Reduce the size of your lawn. Grass lawns do very little for wildlife; try groundcovers or wildflowers instead.

9. Keep dead trees around. Resist the urge to remove them for aesthetic reasons—they make good animal habitats and bird perches!

10. Grow native flowering plants to encourage butterflies, and place flat basking stones in sunny locations for them to warm their wings on.

Some of these hints can be adapted to balconies. I grow native flowering plants in containers - it requires a tiny amount of work; but, the rewards are definitely worth it. I planted vines against a trellis on one wall. The birds love to come and perch on it (they seek shelter there when it's really hot or really stormy.) The fruits it produces are a bonus for my winged friends. If your condo committee is forward-thinking, you could add a small birdbath, a feeding station and possibly a bat or bird house. Most stratas have restrictions about feeding the birds. Most, like mine, don't allow it.

I have two pairs of birds that love my balcony. They shelter in it all the time. I wish the video was better quality; but, it shows that you can attract birds, butterflies, bees etc. by planting native species on your balcony.

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