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backyard sanctuary

Alex Chadwick in Big Bend: An Oasis for Birds

Carolyn Ohl-Johnson found a home — and a way of life — near Big Bend National Park. BirdNote contributor Alex Chadwick visited Carolyn at the desert oasis she created for birds such as this Magnificent Hummingbird. But her accomplishment has required tremendous sacrifice. “I haven’t seen my great... read more »


"You Need a Mister!"

Ken Jacobsen is a retired senator in Washington State who’s a keen birder. When he was on the campaign trail, Jacobsen often advised constituents on ways they could improve conditions for birds in their yards and neighborhoods. You won’t believe what happened when he encouraged one constituent to... read more »

Topics & Themes:  humor

Sanctuary and Bird Sound - with Patti McLead

When Patti and Patrick McLead purchased land near the Edwards Plateau in Texas, they wanted to create a bed and breakfast that doubled as a bird sanctuary. They built cottages and created a meadow. When they put in a pond, birds were quick to respond. This Black-crested Titmouse is among the... read more »

Topics & Themes:  backyard sanctuary

Plants for a Bird-friendly Yard in the Northwest

Native plant specialist, Don Norman, recommends plants for a bird-friendly back yard in the Pacific Northwest. He says:My favorite for a winter food source is the California wax myrtle (Morella californica),which provides winter food for many species (like Yellow-rumped Warblers after which they... read more »

Topics & Themes:  gardening

Creative Landscaping Captures Run-off

Joanna Buehler moved into her home on Lake Sammamish east of Seattle in 1987. The entire subdivision had been scraped clean and not a single tree or bush existed. She put in minimal landscaping at first – mainly grass seed and a few trees - and later added western red-cedar, coastal redwood, Doug... read more »

Topics & Themes:  environmental champion, gardening

Bird-friendly Planting in Fall - With Joanna Buehler

The landscape around Joanna Buehler’s home on Lake Sammamish was once completely barren. But today, it provides food, water, and refuge for many species of birds. You can create a bird sanctuary in your own yard by selecting native plants adapted for your area. If you’re lucky, nature will do... read more »

Topics & Themes:  environmental champion, gardening

Clean Nestboxes in October

It’s a beautiful moment when your backyard birds — like these Black-capped Chickadees — depart their nestboxes. By October, it’s time for one last duty as nestbox landlord: to clean it out. Cleaning will reduce the incidence of parasites in the box and make it more inviting to next spring’s... read more »

Topics & Themes:  nesting

Shelterbelts and Their Birds

Many species of birds nest in shelterbelts — also known as windbreaks — parallel rows of trees and shrubs planted to shelter houses, farms, and livestock from strong winds and drifting snow. Because shelterbelts often provide more food and lack the predators found in woodlands, they are great... read more »

Topics & Themes:  ecology, nesting

Swallows Return to Nest

Each spring, eight species of swallows — including this Barn Swallow — migrate north from the tropics to nest in North America. Tree Swallows and Purple Martins are especially dependent on man-made nestboxes. Tree Swallows nest over much of the continent, while Purple Martins are most prevalent... read more »

Topics & Themes:  migration, nesting

Saving Snags for Red-headed Woodpeckers

Red-headed Woodpeckers excavate cavities in large, dead trees called snags. Yet, over much of the Red-head's range, snags are frequently cut down as unsightly, or because they make good firewood. There are ways we can help the Red-headed Woodpecker -- and many other woodpeckers, too. The key is... read more »

Topics & Themes:  gardening, nesting