A Spotted Towhee sheltering in a tangle of vegetation.

Plan early for a spring bird-friendly garden

Make your space eco-friendly.

The middle of winter is a good time to plan your springtime garden and introduce elements to make it eco-friendly.

It is also time to clean and repair existing bird nest boxes or build new ones, ready for the start of the breeding season in March.

Suburban yards are important habitat and can usefully contribute to the survival of many coastal birds.

A garden with plenty of trees and shrubs will be home to attractive birds like the Bushtit, Spotted Towhee and Downy Woodpecker.

Flower gardens will be brightened by the flashing colours of Rufous Hummingbirds or the gentle flight of Tiger Swallowtail butterflies.

American Robins welcome the spring with a cascade of song from dawn to dusk. Some Surrey and Delta residents are reporting hearing their beautiful song less often.

There may be fewer suitable nest sites as gardens shrink and shrubby areas are cut down. Birds are at their most vulnerable when raising chicks so they need safe nesting places, protected from predators such as crows, jays, squirrels and domestic cats. Gardeners who keep or plant a thick cluster of trees, bushes, or hedgerows will be rewarded with lots of birds to watch.

Hedges do not need to be too clipped and formal, which takes a lot of maintenance, but rather a cluster of bushes and trees forming a nice dense tangle of vegetation, with a mix of conifers and broadleafs.

Robins need a secure location in a dense tree or bush to hide their nest of grass, twigs and mud.

If there is a lawn nearby, robins will feed on earthworms in the grass before retiring back to the shelter of the bushes. Avoid using pesticides as that could affect their food supply.

Chestnut-backed and Black-capped Chickadees, Bewick’s Wren, Red-breasted Nuthatches and Northern Flickers nest in hollowed-out cavities in trees. Chickadees and wrens will also come to nest boxes, which need to be in place by March.

If you decide to put up a nest box, prepare to be a good landlord, as they need to be cleaned annually.

The location, design and dimensions of the box are critical in attracting the right guests, so do your homework before cutting the wood.

Anne Murray is the author of A Nature Guide to Boundary Bay and Tracing Our Past: A Heritage Guide to Boundary Bay, available at local bookstores. Visit www.natureguidesbc.com

Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Horgan’s election call ‘nakedly opportunistic,’ political scientist says

Premier says campaign will ‘fully comply’ with public health directions

Dozens of Canadian venues to light up red in support of entertainment workers

Local facilities among dozens across Canada to participate in Light Up Live

Canada West Golf Championships cancelled due to COVID-19 travel restrictions

UBC, UBC-O, UFV and UVic athletes will not hit the links this year, Kelowna was set to host

PHOTOS: Inside Surrey’s new in-rink private school, which isn’t all about hockey

Glarea Elevated Learning school has opened at Excellent Ice

CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of Sept. 20

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

B.C. reports 96 new COVID-19 cases, one hospital outbreak

61 people in hospital as summer ends with election

‘Unprecedented’ coalition demands end to B.C. salmon farms

First Nations, commercial fishermen among group calling for action on Cohen recommendations

Earthquake off coast of Washington recorded at 4.1 magnitude

The quake was recorded at a depth of 10 kilometres

B.C.’s top doctor says she’s received abuse, death threats during COVID-19 response

Henry has become a national figure during her time leading B.C.’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

BC Liberals must change gears from election cynicism, focus on the issues: UBC professors

COVID-19 response and recovery is likely to dominate platforms

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. could be without a new leader for multiple weeks after Election Day: officials

More than 20K mail-in voting packages were requested within a day of B.C. election being called

Vancouver Island sailor stranded in U.S. hospital after suffering massive stroke at sea

Oak Bay man was attempting to circumnavigate the world solo

Majority needed to pass COVID-19 budget, B.C. premier says

John Horgan pushes urgent care centres in first campaign stop

Most Read