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This One is for the Birds!

This One is for the Birds!

Feb 17 2015

Spring is just around the corner and that means the birds of spring and summer are ready to take flight, back to your yard. Some of the most common birds you will find returning to your neighborhood now that the weather is getting warmer and the days longer are doves, finches, and sparrows.

And if you take time to smell the roses around your house this spring, observe what lives around them, you might just discover a whole new level of bird watching.

Backyard birds, just like cats and dogs, have different behavior patterns, yet when living together, create a cooperative community of support. Carolyn Passalaqua, a birder writing for Backyard Birds of Modesto (, shares some interesting insights about bird behavior, and tips for attracting them to your yard and creating a space where they feel safe and uninhibited.

  • Observing: Sparrows and finches are actually more comfortable if you make a small amount of noise, and don’t mind being watched. If you are too quiet they feel they are being stalked and might hide. Doves, however, are intimidated by direct eye contact and tend to fly away. All three types are comfortable around people doing yard work or just hanging out, and might be easier to observe if you are engaged in a gentle activity like weeding your garden.
  • Environment: The more you are outside, the more comfortable they become around you and more likely to land near you and the feeders you put out for them. Birds will flock to clean feeders much more than dirty, unkept ones, giving you more opportunities to observe small birds at their best.
  • Water: Birds love the sound of water running, and will come down out of the trees when they hear even a trickle. Put some water features in your yard and watch what happens.

tpicture of finch

  • Sounds and Colors: Birds like soft music, and tend to relax when it’s playing around them. Some birders believe they can recognize you by the colors you wear. If you want them to get used to you so you see more of them, try wearing the same colors every day for a few days to help them develop trust around you.

tpicture of finch

  • Feeders: Sparrows, finches and doves all like shallow water to stand in, 1 to 1.5 inches, and tend to be more inclined to use ground feeders. Be sure to put them away from bushes or rocks where cats can be lurking.
Once you have created an environment of trust and security, and of course food, for your birds, pay attention to how they all work and live together. According to Passalaqua’s observations and others, a few sparrows and finches tend to scope out the landscape first. If they find it suiting, more of their species will come, and then doves will join them. After the doves, more sparrows and finches will come to your yard as the doves create a greater sense of safety for the small birds. Once doves settle in, you will likely notice scrub jays joining your community. Even though the sparrows and finches are intimidated by the jays at first, the scrub jays serve a purpose as they warn the other birds about danger, and in some cases, will even take on a cat to protect the smaller birds.
tpicture of finch

As the birds are about to return for summer, now is the perfect time to get your yard bird-ready. Ask local garden experts for advice on water feeders, where to put them, and what kind of feed is best for the bird species in your area. Then grab your favorite beverages, a light blanket, pull out your summer lounge chairs, and enjoy nature unfolding before you!

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