Last summer, I had all the turf removed from my backyard, and replaced it with all kinds of native plants and sedges. I made sure to leave a "Woods" type of area in the back of the yard, for the foragers. Within weeks, I had bees, butterflies (including Monarch caterpillars and butterflies) and birds enjoying the plant offerings, with the goldfinches particularly enjoying the Lavender Hyssop.
Today, after a week of intense birding in all kinds of places, I decided to stay home and catch up on my chores. Except that every time I looked out of the window, I had to stop, pull my binoculars and camera, because of new visitors! In suburban Evanston! I ended the day with:
- 3 catbirds
- 1 ovenbird
- 1 Nashville warbler
- 1 Blue-winged warbler (yesterday was my first sighting of one!)
- 1 Black-and-white warbler
- 1 Blackburnian warbler
- 1 Magnolia warbler
- 1 ruby-crowned kinglet
- 1 Blue-gray gnatcatcher
- 1 Baltimore Oriole
- 5 Rose-breasted Grosbeaks
- 1 House Wren
- 1 White-crowned sparrow (there were 4 the other day)
These birds did not just pass through, they hung around. I saw them in the morning, throughout the day, and then again the same species in the evening.
Not to mention the Blue Jays, Cardinals, Goldfinches, House Finches, House Sparrows, Robins, Crow, Downy, Hairy and Red-bellied Woodpeckers and White-breasted Nuthatch. And two chickadees nesting in a nest box on my patio (and very worried about the wren). With the 3 Grackle flyovers, that adds up to 25 species for the day!
I am now in the process of converting the entire front yard to native plants as well.
Wilmette and the Lake County Forest Preserve are having their respective native plant sales on Saturday May 12. The LCFP sale is fabulous, hundreds of native plants to chose from at Independence Grove. Wilmette's is great as well, just smaller in scale.
It all definitely pays off!
From: <ILbirds...> <ILbirds...> on behalf of Jonathan Schuler <jkschuler...> [ILbirds] <ILbirds-noreply...>
Sent: Friday, May 4, 2018 7:26 AM
Subject: IBET Best. Bird. Day. Ever.
Long-time listener, first-time caller...
I'm prompted to write this because of another birder's thrush sighting the other day in her backyard. She had made her yard more inviting to birds and the fruits of her labor had finally paid off. She was excited; as well she should be!
I am in the same, great boat!
Yesterday, after three years of minor (and to be honest, some major) improvements to our regular old suburban-size backyard, I had what I consider the best birding day of my life.
The intensity of this year's spring migration surely helped, but I had three Nashville warblers, two Baltimore orioles, three rose-breasted grosbeaks, a white-crowned sparrow and two unidentified blue/gray sparrow-size birds (just caught the blue on them before they took off -- hopefully they're back today).
These are all birds I've seen numerous times before — but never in my own backyard.
When we moved in a couple years ago, my goal was to turn our backyard into something more than just a boring host for the typical menagerie of house sparrows, house finches, mourning doves and robins.
Yesterday, I spent the day looking out our windows catching glimpses of orange and red and blue and yellow, and it made me appreciate -- perhaps more than ever before -- the positive impact us flawed and silly human beings can have on the environment.
To the woman who saw that thrush in her backyard: That common little fellow might be your Bird of the Year. And rightfully so. Yesterday certainly goes down in my book as one of those moments, too.