How To Create a Bird Friendly Yard

Male Western Tanager Courtesy Pixabay
Male Western Tanager
Courtesy Pixabay
How To Create a Bird Friendly Yard
Growing up in Smithfield Canyon in northern Utah, I heard birds singing every day. We had the incredible luxury of having variety of native plants and trees in our yard and the yards of our neighbors. The natural landscape of the canyon makes every yard bird friendly!

When my husband Marc and I moved to downtown Logan, we realized we need to be more intentional about creating bird friendly yards. We purchased two feeders to attract birds to the yard. We started with a globe feeder filled with black oil sunflower seeds, a sock feeder filled with nyjer thistle, and a suet cage.

I set up the feeders where I had the best line of sight from where I spent the most time at home. I was really disappointed that the birds weren’t coming to my feeders! After a bit of research, I learned that I need to place the feeders where the birds are most comfortable, near trees, bushes, and flowers where they can take cover and enjoy food from native plants.

Taking note of this, I relocated the feeders near bushes and trees and rearranged the furniture in my home to allow me a better view. Because relocating the feeders took them farther from my home, I put a small pair of binoculars in the console of our couch so I could grab them quickly if a bird landed at the feeder.

Black Oil Sunflower Seeds (Chickadees, Finches, Grosbeaks)
Black oil sunflower seeds feed the widest number of birds year-round, including chickadees, finches, pine siskins, and grosbeaks. If you are new to attracting birds to your yard, start with black oil sunflower seeds.

Learning to recognize different species by sight and sound is made easier by paying attention to your feeders. If you are lucky birds will stay at the feeder for 30 seconds, giving you time to study the markings or grab your binoculars for a closer look. The globe feeder with black oil sunflower seeds helped me learn the difference between a pine siskin and a female finch.

Looking at photos posted in the Facebook Group, Birding in Utah, I noticed a pattern of beautiful Evening and Black-Headed Grosbeaks at platform feeders. I had not realized that different birds utilize different styles of feeders! I ordered a platform feeder, filled it with black oil sunflower seeds, and soon had Grosbeaks at my feeders at home.

Nyjer Thistle
A nyjer thistle sock or feeder will bring goldfinches to your yard. I love trying to determine the difference between American goldfinches and lesser goldfinches. This task becomes even more challenging when you begin to see differences in males, females, and juveniles. This type of identification is meditative for me and has been an especially important form of self-care for me through the COVID-10 pandemic. T

Grape Jelly
This spring, I added a grape jelly feeder to my feeding station. I was working from home and engaging in a Zoom call. I happened to look out of my window at the jelly feeder and nearly screamed with delight when I saw a yellow warbler enjoying the jelly. I took note of the general time it visited and took a photo of it at the feeder on the weekend.

Resources
I use eBird, a website and app, to track bird sightings in my yard. Ebird helps me know the dates I can expect to see migrating birds in my yard. I love to look at the data to see which birds I am recording most often and the months that I see the most density.

Like many of you, I have been spending more time at home due to the coronavirus pandemic. In mid-May, I looked out the window to see a Western Tanager, my favorite bird, perched on the top of a hook holding my feeders. Spending more time at home has become an opportunity to take small steps to make my yard more bird friendly. The birds give me something to look forward to every day and they are a great reminder for staying present and hopeful for the future.

This is Mykel Beorchia from the Bridgerland Audubon Society and I am wild about Utah.

Credits:
Photos:
    Courtesy Pixabay,
Audio: Courtesy and Copyright Kevin Colver
Text: Mykel Beorchia, Bridgerland Audubon Society and University and Exploratory Advising, Utah State University

Additional Reading

About eBird, https://ebird.org/about
Note: eBird is a project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and is supported entirely by grants, sponsors, and donations.

Grow a Bird Friendly Yard:

Hummingbird Nectar Recipe, Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute, https://nationalzoo.si.edu/migratory-birds/hummingbird-nectar-recipe

Feeding Birds, Project Feederwatch, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, https://feederwatch.org/learn/feeding-birds/

Ebersole, Rene, How to Create a Bird-Friendly Yard, National Audubon Society, July-August 2013, https://www.audubon.org/magazine/july-august-2013/how-create-bird-friendly-yard

D. Mizejewski, Attracting Birds, Butterflies and Other Backyard Wildlife (Reston, VA: National Wildlife Federation/Fox Chapel Publishing, 2004). https://www.amazon.com/National-Wildlife-Federation-Attracting-Butterflies/dp/1580111505/
Publisher Website: https://foxchapelpublishing.com/national-wildlife-federation-r-attracting-birds-butterflies-backyard-wildlife.html

Certify Your Wildlife Habitat, National Wildlife Federation, Accessed 20 July 2017, http://www.nwf.org/Home/Garden-For-Wildlife.aspx
Certify: http://www.nwf.org/Garden-For-Wildlife/Certify.aspx

Creating Landscapes for Wildlife… A Guide for Backyards in Utah, Written by Sue Nordstrom and Illustrated by Kathlyn Collins Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, Utah State University with Margy Halpin, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources; Second Printing 2001,
Updated for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, by Frank Howe, DWR Avian coordinator; Ben Franklin, DWR–Utah Natural Heritage Program botanist; Randy Brudnicki, DWR publications editor; and landscape planning illustrations by Stephanie Duer.,
Published by:
State of Utah Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife Resources,
Utah State University Cooperative Extension Service and
Utah State University Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning;
1991 updated 2001 http://digitallibrary.utah.gov/awweb/awarchive?type=file&item=10215

United States Department of Agriculture, Plants Profile: Littleleaf Mock Orange. Found online at: http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=PHMI4

United States Department of Agriculture, Plants Profile: Garrett’s Fire Chalice. Found online at: http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=EPCAG

Plant Lists & Collections, Recommended Species by State, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, www.wildflower.org/collections

Attracting Hummingbirds to your Yard, Human Wildlife Interactions, Utah State University Extension, April 2015, https://extension.usu.edu/wildlife-interactions/featured-animals/other-animal-topics/hummingbirds.php



The Eastern Shore of Bear Lake

Eastern Shore of Bear Lake Courtesy & © Patrick Kelly, Photographer
Eastern Shore of Bear Lake
Courtesy & © Patrick Kelly, Photographer
The Eastern shore of Bear Lake is a quiet place

Far from the hubbub and close to what is good for us

Seldom visited by those who want

And home to all that one needs

As autumn takes its dive towards winter and leaves begin to turn

Be like the Eastern shore of Bear Lake

Be Peaceful

Be Deep

Be…

I’m Patrick Kelly and I’m Wild About Utah
 
Credits:

Images: Image Courtesy & Copyright © Patrick Kelly, Photographer
Audio: Contains audio Courtesy & Copyright Patrick Kelly
Text:    Patrick Kelly, Director of Education, Stokes Nature Center, https://logannature.org
Included Links: Lyle Bingham, Webmaster, WildAboutUtah.org

Additional Reading

Leavitt, Shauna, Bear Lake Sculpin – Cottus extensus, Wild About Utah, August 28, 2017, Bear Lake Sculpin – Cottus extensus, https://wildaboututah.org/bear-lake-sculpin-cottus-extensus/

Bingham, Lyle, Kervin, Linda(voice), Bonneville Cisco, Wild About Utah, February 11, 2009, Bonneville Cisco, https://wildaboututah.org/bonneville-cisco/

Bear Lake Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau, Bear Lake Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau, https://bearlake.org/

Are Bear Lake’s Ciscos a Joy or Curse?, Angler Guide, http://www.anglerguide.com/articles/112.html

Fishing: Bear Lake history & facts, http://wildlife.utah.gov/fishing/bearlake.html

Endemic Species of Bear Lake, Pugstones Fishing Guides, http://www.fishingbearlake.com/bearlake.html

Prosopium gemmifer, Bonneville cisco, FishBase, http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.php?id=2683

Bonneville cisco, Prosopium gemmifer, http://dwrcdc.nr.utah.gov/rsgis2/Search/Display.asp?FlNm=prosgemm

Utah Sensitive Species List, http://dwrcdc.nr.utah.gov/ucdc/ViewReports/sslist.htm

Bonneville Cisco (Prosopium bemmiferum) from Bear Lake, Utah-Idaho, All Enthusiast, Inc., http://www.aslo.org/photopost/showphoto.php/photo/553/sort/1/cat/all/page/1

Winter Fishing Comes Naturally at Bear Lake, Utah Outdoors, http://www.utahoutdoors.com/pages/bear_lake_winter.htm

Wandering Home

Wandering Home: Naomi Ridgeline from the Mt. Magog Summit Courtesy & © Josh Boling, Photographer
Naomi Ridgeline from the Mt. Magog Summit
Courtesy & © Josh Boling, Photographer
There’s a map in my head lined with the topography of memory and time. The landscape has a rhythm, the cadence of muscle memory when enough boot prints have been tracked across it. Earth’s geometries are as familiar as my own. Wandering Home

Annapurna region of the Himalaya; Nepal
Annapurna region of the Himalaya; Nepal
Courtesy & © Josh Boling, Photographer
George Mallory, when asked in 1923 why he would attempt to climb Mt. Everest, replied, “Because it’s there.” Those now immortal words have been uttered by nearly every adventurer seeking some sort of tenable logic for their quests big or small. Mallory’s words rattle in my brain when I endeavor to do much of anything outside; but those words are only half the answer. Yes, we climb mountains, paddle rivers, and explore canyons because they are there, but also because we are here. That, I think, is the most tenable logic of all.

“…[T]he living world is the natural domain of the most restless and paradoxical part of the human spirit,” wrote E. O. Wilson. “Our sense of wonder,” he continues, “grows exponentially: the greater the knowledge, the deeper the mystery and the more we seek knowledge to create new mystery.”

Blue John slot canyon, Courtesy & © Josh Boling, Photographer
Blue John Slot Canyon
Courtesy & © Josh Boling, Photographer
Everett Ruess was still a child in 1931 when he began wandering the red rock canyons of southern Utah with a burro and his art supplies. He scaled cliff bands and steep canyon walls with alarming abandon, and I thought him reckless when I first read his letters and journals. I still wouldn’t follow his lead; but I wonder now if I had judged him too harshly at first. Mysteries are known and knowledge is gained through perspective; and some perspectives are acquired with requisite risks.

They say there’s a gene that separates the restless wanderers from those more content. Perhaps that’s true; or perhaps it just identifies the tendency with which we gain perspective. I’ve often wondered if I have that gene; but I don’t think it matters in the end. We all wander—into the backcountry, the hinterlands, the backyard. I think it’s the mysteries we seek that are different, and, therefore, the knowledge gained—of ourselves and the places we call home.
 

Jardine Juniper trail, Courtesy & © Josh Boling, Photographer
Jardine Juniper trail
Courtesy & © Josh Boling, Photographer
So, I wander my home range: the valley floor with its winding, braided, willow-choked streams; the hills adjacent to my neighborhood; the glaciated peaks of lime- and dolostone that stand sentinel in the alpenglow. A decade ago, it would have been for the rush of adrenaline and the surge of blood in my veins, for the same perspectives sought by Everett Ruess. Now I do it for the deeper mystery of unknown corners of places I once thought I knew—for the knowledge that lies within.
 

There’s a map in my head, lined with the topography of memory and time, shaded by the knowledge gained and the mysteries still yet to be revealed.

I’m Josh Boling; and I’m Wild About Utah.
 

Cache Valley from Naomi Peak ridgeline. Courtesy & © Josh Boling, Photographer
Cache Valley from Naomi Peak ridgeline
Courtesy & © Josh Boling, Photographer
Credits:
Photos: Courtesy & Copyright Josh Boling, Photographer
Sound: Courtesy & Copyright Friend Weller, Utah Public Radio
Text: Josh Boling, Edith Bowen Laboratory School, Utah State University https://edithbowen.usu.edu/
Additional Reading Links: Lyle Bingham

Sources & Additional Reading

Edwards, Mo, Top 10 Slot Canyons in Utah, Utah.com (Utah Travel Industry Website), July 26, 2017, https://utah.com/top-10-slot-canyons-in-utah

Mount Naomi Wilderness, Wilderness Connect (University of Montana) https://wilderness.net/visit-wilderness/?ID=378

Mount Naomi, Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, USDA Forest Service, https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/uwcnf/recreation/wintersports/?cid=fsem_035454

Hike Mt. Magog, The Outbound Collective, https://www.theoutbound.com/utah/hiking/hike-mt-magog

Ohms, Sarah, Sinclair, Jim, Logan Canyon Hiking, Bridgerland Audubon Society/Cache Hikers, https://logancanyonhiking.com/

Cache County Trails, Cache County, https://trails.cachecounty.org/

Hiking Trail Guide, Cache Valley Visitors Bureau/Logan Ranger District, Wasatch-Cache National Forest, https://www.explorelogan.com/assets/files/brochures/hiking.pdf

Cache Trails, A hiking guide for the trails of the Cache Valley, Bridgerland Audubon Society, https://bridgerlandaudubon.org/our-projects/publications/



Up a Fork in the Cache National Forest

Up a Fork in the Cache National Forest: Cache National Forest Courtesy & © Patrick Kelly, Stokes Nature Center https://logannature.org
Cache National Forest
Courtesy & © Patrick Kelly, Stokes Nature Center
https://logannature.org
There’s a place I like to walk, when I don’t know where else to go, up a Fork in the Cache National Forest.
It’s got all that I want, and all my dog needs: good views and plenty of fast clear water.Up a Fork in the Cache National Forest

It starts off hot and dry, breaks you in quick, but soon the sun’s not so bad.
Walking along the way, helps my mind stray, and soak up right where I am.

The office, the traffic, the honey-dos and the chores all slip freely from my mind,
As I watch my dog sprint, over gentian and mint, and love being as free as the wild.

Being out there and free, helps me think and see, that I’m a part of instead of apart from,
This beautiful world, full of imperfect others, that with time are revealed as imperfect Thous.

This world, this here, this beautiful now, I choose and choose nowhen else,
Because today I see beavers, and grasshoppers, and eagles, and get to wonder when the ducks will again fly south.

My dog and I continue, to hike along the trail, until we come to the Cottonwood Graveyard,
There we stop, maybe stay, for a while and a bit, and she swims after sticks thrown in ponds.

After she’s had a cooldown, we keep hiking uptrail, into the thick of evergreen scents,
My calves start mooing, and my dog she keeps zooming, a bobsledder hot in the chute.

When the trees do break, and the land opens again, we cross the river one last time,
It brings us into a place, folks once knew back in the day, as the sawmill with the best oxen in town.

Me and my dog, we’ll linger there for a minute, and I’ll think how happy we are,
That this place was here, but isn’t any longer, or else the boon would not be worth the trial.

On our way back to the car, it’s hard work to keep your mind far, from the valley to-dos in the not far ahead,
But I remember why, I take the time to get out under the sky, in the wild to clear my over-civilized head:

You can bring a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink, but he also can’t drink unless he’s at that trough.
So even if today’s got you feeling astray, remember there’s good liquid if you’d like it not too far off.

So go out today, or tomorrow or Thursday, make it a formal appointment if it’ll keep you true,
Doesn’t matter the place, as long as there’s space, to keep an eye out for the moments which pull the awe to you.

And when you find them, because if you look hard you will, take a minute and breathe in the crackling air’s hum.
And remember that smell, and keep it deep in your heart, because that’s the wild wind that makes all it and us one.

I’m Patrick Kelly and I’m Wild About Utah
 
Credits:

Images: Image Courtesy & Copyright © Patrick Kelly, Photographer
Audio: Contains audio Courtesy & Copyright Friend Weller, J. Chase and K.W. Baldwin
Text:    Patrick Kelly, Director of Education, Stokes Nature Center, https://logannature.org
Included Links: Lyle Bingham, Webmaster, WildAboutUtah.org

Additional Reading

Ohms, Sarah, Bridgerland Audubon Society, Logan Canyon Hiking, https://LoganCanyonHiking.com/

The Allen & Alice Stokes Nature Center, https://logannature.org
Included Links: Lyle Bingham, Webmaster, WildAboutUtah.org

Kelly, Patrick, In the Eyes of a Bear, Wild About Utah, July 27, 2020 https://wildaboututah.org/in-the-eyes-of-a-bear/