MY WORD: How to help feed the birds

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By Horace Brown

I suggest each of you save money, save your valuable time and save birds – even if not all of you would like to do. I hope to suggest to you as to how this can be accomplished in such a way that also hopefully will make you proud.

First of all, if any of you own a small farm-like tract of land, say 5 to 15 or 20 acres or so, where you regularly perform monotonous mowing that causes you to spend unnecessary money on equipment and fuel as well as spending your valuable time, then here just might be a solution. Try planting these areas in native grasses, which you won’t have to mow often, if at all. You can receive expert advice from the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Department as well as from our local Soil Conservation Service.

By doing this, you can also help save five of the top 10 diminishing birds in Kentucky.

According to a fairly recent 40-year study, the following species need help in finding acceptable habitats where they can build homes and raise  families are the No. 1 declining bird in America, the Northern Bobwhite, whose numbers are down 82 percent, the No. 6, the Field Sparrow – down 68 percent – and the No. 10, the Grasshopper Sparrow, with numbers down 65 percent.

I have turned a 16.3-acre farm in the Southville area of Shelby County, which my sister and I own, into a small nature preserve. We did this after the tobacco program dried up around 2005. Even though all adjoining properties are constantly mowed, we now have Northern Bobwhites, Eastern Meadowlarks and Field Sparrows. This procedure could also work for tracts that are 1 to 5 acres in size by landscaping with native grasses and such.

If you have a suburban-type piece of property, then you could do a more limited amount of this through landscaping. I once owned a house and lot in a local subdivision that was 100 feet wide and 140 feet deep. Since I bought it, when it was brand new and no landscaping had even been initiated, I was able to create my own little peace of heaven. I, of course, sowed some grass, but I also planted trees and shrubs that provided food for birds each month of the year.

In addition, I planted a couple of White Pines and a couple of Norway Spruce for roosting birds. I moved from there after 33 1/3 years and left behind 76 species of trees, shrubs and flowers on that small tract of land and had observed 142 species of birds.

Let me suggest that you allow yourself the pleasure of enjoying your land. Let it become your getaway as well as an absolute haven.


Horace Brown, a bird enthusiast and profiler, lives in Bagdad.