Thursday, June 28, 2007

Dinosaurs Get Thirsty Too

Most paleontologists agree that those feathered creatures that flit around our gardens and occasionally compromise visibility through our windshields are descendents of ancient dinosaurs. So I’ll just take it on faith that they’re correct.

With the exception of some neighborhood crows that wake me up, I’m pretty chill with boids in the ‘hood. I’m not a binocular-toting birder, but from a purely functional garden point of view, they’re a bonus. They eat insects--the big raptors will even dispense gophers and other pests. Hurray, I say!

I’m all about having our landscapes appeal to as many senses as possible, so let’s add their color, movement, and songs. So what’s not to like?

My favorite landscape design is lovingly tended by a couple of avid birders. The small garden is a veritable airport terminal for guests who fly in from who knows where. A custom iron “tree” of feeders is dead center off the patio. All forms of hummingbird feeders hang from fences.

But my favorite feature is the custom fountain crafted from an old Maytag washer. The white enameled exterior was crafted into giant flat stair-stepped leaves where water trickles from one to the next. Birds of all sorts alight on the edges of the leaves, take a gulp, splash around in the lower pool, towel off, dust on some talcum powder and off they go. And you can see it from inside the house as well.

The point is (I know, the suspense was killing you) these guys need some help this summer. Santa Barbara had super-low rainfall, so there are fewer natural fresh watering holes. Please do your part. If there’s somewhere in your garden you can provide fresh water (not algae-ridden primordial soup) that would be great. And you don’t have to be in a drought-stricken area to look out for our buddies either. It’s just a good thing to do.

One more thang. Plant diverse gardens with lots of local native plants ‘coz them little dinos gotta eat too!

More info? Check with your local Audobon folks.


George said...

We try to keep our birdbath full, but the dogs think it makes a nifty waterbowl. Got to get a higher birdbath or shorter dogs.

Garden Wise Guy said...

George: maybe trading your Ostrich Hounds for Bassett Hounds would be a good direction? Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. GWG

Diana said...

The little dinos like the bird bath (non-running fountain) in the back yard... I need to wash it out and run it a bit everyday so it will stay clean for them this summer.

Thanks for the tip!

R-Dog said...

Excellent comments GWG! And hummingbird food is easy to make: 1 part cane sugar and 4 parts water. If you boil the water, add the sugar and then let it cool, I have heard that helps keep mold from developing. Just be sure to change said food once a week.

And before I forget, if you get *really* ambitious about attracting birds to a birdbath, hang a dripper on it, above it, etc. Apparently birds like the look of moving water. I myself bought a dripping water container used for reptile cages, and hung it in the tree above the birdbath. Fill it up, set to slow drip, and watch the sparrows, titmice, finches and all sorts of BBB (Boring Brown Birds) come around. And of course this helps keep the water from stagnating a bit. Peace out!

Anonymous said...

Wow, love your blog on the birder's garden. I think we all need a reminder that many of these creatures fly thousands of miles in migration and even if it is just a quick sip and nibble in your garden, you may have saved a bird's life. They usually fly until they really can't go a beat further and to find only asphalt without water, insect, nectar, seeds and sheltering plants would do them in. After all, we are part of the whole together.

Cheryl said...

I really enjoy your blog-thanks for the inspiration and info.

Can I buy one of those recycled Maytag fountains somewhere? Love it!

Garden Wise Guy said...

GardenWiseGuy here. Alas, the fountain is a one of a kind found in in Escondido, CA by my client. I don't recall the artist's name but he's still around the area. If I find it, I'll post it. He used to show and sell his pieces at the now defunct Nofufi Gallery, which also specialized in unique garden art.

Blackswamp_Girl said...

I'm loving your blog, Garden Wise Guy... and *ahem* I think that, to properly do my part for the birds, I totally need one of those water features. Good thing trash day is tomorrow--I can keep my eye out for a used washer!