Wednesday, September 7, 2011

It's Fall (at least in my part of the world)

Image courtesy:

Autumn is here - no ifs, ands or buts about it. This means that many of our birds and winged pollinators will either be overwintering or migrating to warmer climes. To help those that stay have a more comfortable winter or those that are migrating find plenty of food to fuel their flights, here are a few tips:

Lay on a Spread: Migrating birds and butterflies need food when preparing for fall journeys and when they arrive in the spring. To help them out, populate your garden with regionally native plants that flower or bear fruit in different seasons. Fall-blooming plants include asters, goldenrods and perennial sunflowers. Berry-producing shrubs include dogwoods and viburnums. Plants that flower early in spring, such as amelanchier, cherries, hawthorns and willows, provide nectar and pollen when migrating species return.

Leave Seed Heads Alone: Leaving perennial seed heads on plants such as echinacea and brown-eyed Susans can provide food for overwintering birds, such as finches and juncos. Seed heads can also feed returning birds in the spring. Shrubs such as winterberry, holly, sumac and highbush cranberry produce berries that can linger into late winter providing food for early arrivers that might face one last cold snap.

Make Mud Puddles: To encourage butterflies in your garden, maintain a damp area with mud, sand or manure. Butterflies drink in minerals from these areas in a process known as "mudpuddling".

Shop Wisely: Use your shopping power to shape the face of our agricultural practices by buying organic and local when you can. Birds need abundant food to complete their migrations and many rely on a diversity of insects, especially ones uncontaminated by pesticides. Small-scale organic agriculture can result in a greater variety of insects than large-scale farming practices. This farming method also helps migrating monarchs which are especially sensitive to pesticide use.

Via Canadian Wildlife

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