Landscaping for Birds

Cape May is celebrated as a migrant trap as southbound birds and insects get caught in the land funnel and are directed toward the peninsula’s terminus at Cape May Point. While never wishing to undermine Cape May’s well earned fame it should be noted that the entire state of New Jersey is a peninsula, bordered by water on three sides. The only thing that prevents it from being an island is our northern border with New York state. The Cape May peninsula is just the neck of the migratory hour glass through which migrating birds pass like so many grains of sand. The fact is, in autumn, you can stand almost anywhere I our state and witness the sweeping drama that is migration.

At night, you can hear the lisping and burry call notes of migrants. At dawn, you can see the wing-weary birds descend into the safety of the forest canopy. During migration, August through December, all habitat becomes critical habitat. Your garden, orchard or hedge might be just the perfect foraging place for a Black-and-white Warbler, Hermit Thrush, or Swamp Sparrow. So in your landscaping plans make room for migrants by leaving a corner of your yard unkempt. Humans like order but Ma Nature likes clutter–leaves, vines and even weeds. Landscaping for birds will add a new dimension to your corner of heaven and add species to your yard list, too.
Don’t forget a water source. Birds love water.

Pete Dunne
NJ Audubon Birding Ambassador
Author Birds of Prey and coauthor Hawks in Flight