My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Recycling is for the Birds

Most of the few trees that are left here at Anahuac NWR are damaged and have lots of dead wood in them.  The refuge manager asked me to start cleaning them out. As soon as I thought about what I would do with the limbs, I realized we need lots of brush piles to give the birds places to hide and forage.  So I got permission to build a series of brush piles.

Brush piles look kind of messy but are beautiful to a bird's eyes. They are great places to sleep out of the wind and  be safe from owls and to dive into when a hawk approaches. Every yard should have at least one. At my daughter's new house, the builder left  one huge brush pile and a smaller one.  Both of them attracted lots of sparrows to the house. I had over 150 chipping sparrows all winter and a few of  other species of sparrows from time to time. The song sparrow was so attached to the brush pile that it would not move 50 feet around the corner to the feeders. I had to climb on my toilet to look out of a high window to get to enjoy it. And a wren built his nest in the bird box next to the brush pile and the pair were often found foraging in it.  

How should you build a brush pile?  If you want to maximize your visitors, it is best to start with several large logs, at least 4-6" in diameter.  Then stack more logs on top of them, leaving several inches of openings between each log. Then you can stack on smaller logs and branches and start pushing some of the small branches down through the stack.  Leave some branches sticking out or up a little higher to provide perches. Rabbits and quail will use brush piles made like this. But if you only have smaller branches, don't worry, you'll still attract some of the smaller birds.  Just be sure to stack them with spaces.  You can add more branches to the north side to provide protection from the winds or build the brush pile on the south side of a building.  You can even use some of your fire logs for a base

Getting Started

Adding Branches

This is not finished, I'll have to finish it next week. 

One of the sparrows in the area.  I think it is an immature white-crowned sparrow.