Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Western Mountains and High Plains
April, 2006
Regional Report

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Son Jonathan observes brids and nature through a set of binoculars in the colorful spring garden.

Birding: A Relaxing and Enjoyable Outdoor Activity

Spring has sprung and summer is not too far behind. This is a great time of the year to get outdoors and enjoy the beauty of nature and the watchable wildlife that abounds in the great outdoors.

Just the other week, my youngest son, Jonathan, and I took time to photograph the blooming bulbs planted last autumn, plus enjoy the sounds of nature as the birds started their nesting season. What a great time to get out the binoculars and observe the birds up close and personal.

Watching Wildlife
Growing up in the country, with a pond, mountain valleys, and forested areas, I came to watching wildlife early. I have childhood memories of collecting tadpoles; of dragonflies dodging my butterfly net; of watching robins tugging worms from the earth, sparrows taking dust baths on hot summer days, and ducks swimming in the ponds.

When it comes to learning about nature, your children's own backyard or treks to the mountains may be among the most valuable study aids. By putting up a birdbath and a bird feeder or two, you can provide a sanctuary for a glimpse at some of nature's most watchable creatures.

Birdfeeders and all the other supplies can be obtained at wild bird centers. Or if you have time, you can make your own feeders. One easy way of making a bird feeder is to hang a large plastic bottle (liter-sized soda bottle), right side up, from a large shade tree. Cut a hole in the side of the bottle about 3 inches from the bottom. Birds can perch on the edge of the hole to feed on the birdseed you've placed in the bottom. The size of the hole will determine to some extent the size of your visitors.

One of my favorite homemade bird feeders is made by cutting a 3- to 4-inch-diameter log 14 inches long, and drilling several 2-inch holes halfway into the log, at 2-inch intervals. Fill the holes with suet and birdseed and wait for your visiting guests.

Locate birdfeeders where they are visible from a window where you and the kids can watch the birds feed without disturbing them. Make sure that trees, shrubs, or other cover is available to protect the birds from predators and inclement weather.

Watching birds and other wildlife has heightened my awareness of animal behavior and made me appreciate their presence in our world. It can help us better understand not only wildlife but ourselves.

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