BOOK REVIEW: Projects for the Birder's Garden – Over 100 Easy Things That You Can Make to Turn Your Yard and Garden into a Bird-Friendly Haven edited by Fern Marshall Bradley and the editors of Yankee Magazine.
Do you want to turn your backyard into an easy, low-maintenance sanctuary for birds, but you don't know how to get started? Perhaps you want some fun, inexpensive projects with which to get your kids interested. The only book a beginner needs is Projects for the Birder's Garden.
This book promises (on page vii) "… more than 20 different feeder designs, 17 recipes and projects for bird and butterfly treats, 5 feeding station designs, 10 birdbaths and water features, 14 birdhouse and nesting projects, 9 designs for baffles and other protective features to foil predators and pests, and more than 20 garden designs and projects featuring plants that will lure songbirds, hummingbirds, and butterflies to your yard." A typical project calls for cheap materials that you probably have around the house anyway such as empty 2-liter soda bottles, old milk cartons, coffee cans, flower pots, grapevine wreaths, plastic water jugs, and baking dishes.
Chapter 1 begins by educating the total beginner on the four big attractions for birds in the backyard: food, water, cover, and nesting sites. It then offers some fast, easy projects that you can complete to transform your backyard into a bird paradise. Simple feeder designs include smearing a cedar shingle with peanut butter and hanging it up to attract woodpeckers, or nailing bits of scrap wood into a shallow buffet tray and mounting it on a post for seed-eaters. One page shows you how to fix up a grapevine wreath so that a robin will build its nest in the bottom curve. Another details how to decorate your birdbaths. There is even a landscaping plan on page 19 for six different types of bird-attracting flowers that can be planted in a 3-foot by 5-foot area in your garden.
Once you've tried the basic projects in Chapter 1 for feeders, water, cover, and nesting, you can then dive into the rest of the book however you wish. Some readers will concentrate on birdhouses. Others will head into the kitchen with the bird-treat recipes. Still others will want to get their hands dirty gardening for birds and butterflies. Sidebars all through the book educate you on different types of birds and their preferences. You can even find instruction in building a simple fountain that will attract birds to the sound of running water, and creating and maintaining a worm farm for bug-eaters like robins.
One clever project that I at the Ornate Bird Garden intend to try turns a kid's little red wagon into a portable bird-feeding station that has a thistle sock hanging from the wagon's handle, a suet feeder affixed to a magnetic hook on the wagon's side, and a seed feeder and birdbath in the wagon bed. You can roll this feeder around your backyard to different observation spots at different times throughout the year.
The editors of the book are associated with Yankee magazine, and they do include some eastern birds such as cardinals that we don't see in the southwestern desert. But don't let that put you off. This book might not get into how to lure a roadrunner to your backyard, but it includes a wealth of other common species that you're sure to see in the east or the west! This book is available at Amazon.com: Projects for the Birder's Garden: Over 100 Easy Things That You can Make to Turn Your Yard and Garden into a Bird-Friendly Haven