Bird Counting

“There is nothing in which the birds differ more from man than the way in which they can build and yet leave a landscape as it was before.” ~  Robert Lynd

I absolutely adore birds in the garden.  It is the one singular thing that brings spring home for me hearing the song birds fill the once silent air with amazing music.  For me it is like eating chocolate.  The good brain chemicals are released when I hear bird songs.   I am at once at peace, calm and joyful. 

“The sound of birds stops the noise in my mind.”–  Carly Simon  

This weekend I have been involved in the annual Great Backyard Bird Count.  It is still going on through today February 20th, so get out those binoculars and cameras and start counting.  Most years we have too much snow on the ground and the birds stay high up in the treetops so I can never see just who they are.  I do not have feeders for many reasons, but with the natural habitat I have been building, I find my garden is filled with birds even in winter.  We can see bluebirds, finches, chickadees, nuthatches, woodpeckers, jays, cardinals, juncos and robins.

Baltimore Oriole

This winter although it has been mild we continue to have snow and this weekend was no exception.  Just when I thought spring may be on its way, Mother Nature asserted herself again with dark gray skies and walls of white flakes blowing in cold and strong.  This is not the kind of weather to watch birds.  My birds were smart and they were hunkered down protected from the fierce winter weather.  So we saw very little to count once again.  Actually in 3 days I saw 1 crow, 6 bluebirds, 1 white-breasted nuthatch and 1 downy woodpecker.

I have posted about gardening for birds, and with so many birds visiting the garden in spring and summer, I am going to try and keep a good list.  After reading the book I am reviewing today, I think knowing who you have visiting and who may be missing that you would like to attract would be great info to have even before you read the book.  It will help focus your efforts.


Bird-by-Bird Gardening: The Ultimate Guide to Bringing in Your Favorite Birds–Year after Year 

by Sally Roth

Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Rodale Books; Reprint edition (February 3, 2009)
List Price:  $ 19.95
Amazon Price:  $13.57 (Paperback)




In a Few Words:

This book is more than a gardening book.   It is a birding book.  Within the pages of the book you will find so much information, you cannot possibly digest it all at once.  Part 1 takes you from general info about birds, to what to expect in different neighborhoods and then onto the basic needs of birds.  Part 1 alone is chock full of great information to get you started.

Once you get to Part 2, be prepared to do a lot of reading as the author breaks it down by bird family.  Of course there is ample information to help you use these Family By Family chapters.  Each chapter gives you specifics about the bird family, its habitat, plants to use to attract the birds and food, water and nesting needs.  Here is the list of bird families covered:

  1. Woodpecker
  2. Flycatcher
  3. Vireo
  4. Crow and Jay
  5. Swallow
  6. Chickadee and Titmouse
  7. Nuthatch
  8. Wren
  9. Kinglet
  10. Thrush
  11. Mimic Thrush
  12. Waxwing
  13. Warbler
  14. Tanager
  15. Large Finch
  16. Small Finch
  17. Blackbird and Oriole
  18. Hummingbird
  19. Gallinaceous

Part 3 of the book goes into birds across America.  Topics include seasonal habits, year round birds, migrant birds and regional birds.


What I Loved:

juvenile robin

This book is  the life work of the author who is a veteran gardener and naturalist. Nothing is left to chance in this book.   If you are looking for a book that gives you a good background about birds in general, look no further.  If you are looking for a resource to find out more about different types of birds, this is your book.   But I think the best part of this book, is in the plethora of information on how to attract birds into your garden.  There are 19 garden designs in the book that give you a basic drawing, list of plants preferred by the specific bird family and loads of info about those particular plants.  The author adds lots of side notes and lists to cram in even more information, anecdotes and stories from her gardens and experiences.

Add to all this things like water projects and feeder recipes for each bird family, and you can see this is one book you will want to have and use regularly when planning for birds in your garden.


Not So Much:  

I love this book so much I can’t really say anything negative about it.  Again this book has so much in it, you may be overwhelmed about where to start.  The only advice I have is that you read Part 1 and Part 3 to familiarize yourself with birds and their needs first.  You may think you know about birds, but when you are done you will realize how much you did not know.

Before you start Part 2, you may want to pick a favorite bird family and start there, or read about a few and note similarities so you can start planning.   One word of warning is that this is not a good book for the experienced birder or those who have lots of knowledge on how to bring birds into the garden.  It is definitely for those with little to some knowledge on the subject.


Final Thoughts:


My favorite part of the book are the beautifully illustrated  garden designs that are so professionally done.  Sally also reinforces the idea of using natives plants whenever possible, and she has many in the plant list and designs.  These designs show just how beautiful a garden can be using native plants to attract birds.  If you have been thinking about ways to add birds to your garden or wanted to redesign and area of your garden, I encourage you to add this book to your library of important resources.


 “Poor indeed is the garden in which birds find no homes.”

~ Abram L. Urban


Special Note:  Books reviewed here at Gardens Eye View were purchased by me and were not gifts from publishers.


 Next up on the blog:  This Wednesday I am showcasing my purple native plants for Wildflower Wednesday.  I will have my submission for W4W@Garden Walk Garden Talk on Monday discussing Time.  Gardens Eye Verse is the first Monday in March followed by the last 2 color posts in time for GBBD, yellow, and Wildflower Wednesday in March, green.  Of course I will highlight another favorite native plant in March as part of Simply The Best series with Diana@ Elephant’s Eye.

I hope to have more info next Monday on a new seasonal meme that will start in Spring.  And I hope you will join me for my weekly posts, every Tuesday, at Beautiful Wildlife Garden.

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