It's Wild Out Back

Trip Start Mar 07, 1997
Trip End Dec 25, 1998

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Flag of United States  , Tennessee
Friday, November 7, 1997

Go with me? Our hummingbirds have flown to Costa Rica for the winter. But the goldfinches have arrived, so it's time to stock up on thistle. We're going to Wild Birds Unlimited for a triple tube feeder and a fistful of birdlore.

Spring may be the time to attract nesters to your yard by providing bluebird boxes, purple martin houses, and robin roosts. But this is the time of year to think about feeders. As icy weather approaches and berries become scarce, our flying friends appreciate a secure spot for enjoying a good meal.

What better way to use your backyard? You can even turn it into a wildlife habitat, certified by the National Wildlife Federation. Pick up your "How To" kit at the bird store. It contains an application form, a copy of "The Backyard Naturalist," and a pamphlet that explains the process.

You'll need to provide four basics to attract wildlife - food, water, cover, and places to raise young. A full-grown habitat isn't necessary to qualify - even your beginning efforts will be recognized.

Over 20,000 backyards have been certified throughout North America to date. When your yard achieves that status, your habitat is assigned its own unique number and entered in the National Register.

But best of all, you have a flock of new friends! Who would you like to see? Thistle attracts finches, and sunflower pleases cardinals, chickadees, sparrows, and grackles. Blue jays and red-winged blackbirds go for cracked corn; and suet attracts a wide variety of insect-eating birds, such as woodpeckers and nuthatches. Water for drinking and bathing is essential - watch out for freezing temperatures and make sure to remove ice.

This is the time of year to add bird-pleasing plants to your yard too. Choose the kind that provide both cover and natural food. Plants should range in size and density also, to allow birds space for feeding, hiding, courting, and nesting.

For inspiration, drive to the mountains or the lake to see what wildlife is stirring this time of year. Watch for the tell-tale binoculars on the brown "Wildlife Viewing Area" signs.

Now that TVA has lowered the lake level, you can spot many wading birds in the mudflats of Savannah Bay. Waterfowl such as loons may be seen from the road circling the reservoir on Raccoon Mountain. And the bald eagles will be here all winter, soaring over the Gorge. See you there.

Wild Birds Unlimited, E Brainerd Road, Chattanooga
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