As a young adult, gardening around his first new home, Bob Ewing purchased a cheap finch feeder and hung it outside. He admits he didn’t know what he was doing and had no idea what might show up. To his amazement one day, the feeder was covered with fluttering yellow goldfinches. From then on, he was hooked. Those first bright yellow birds started a passion that grew to include learning everything he could about backyard birds, their habits, and their migratory patterns. Now as a Team Leader in our greenhouse, Bob is the person we go to when we have questions about specific bird species, their behavior, and how to attract them to our yards.
So, we’re excited that Bob is sharing his love for both birds and plants this month with two seminars in our Backyard Naturalist series. In one seminar, Native Plants, Bob will explore the many positive impacts native plants have on our gardens and our environment. But in Bird-Friendly Landscapes, he’ll focus on how landscape plants– especially native ones – fill the needs for the birds around our homes. Bob says one of the biggest challenges birds face, especially in urban areas, is loss of habitat. Habitat includes the food, water, and shelter resources birds need to thrive. While we often think of birds eating from feeders, Bob says wild birds get only 20-30% of their food resources from feeders. For the rest of their nutrition, birds search for native plants – specifically the seeds they produce and the insects they attract. They also look to plants like trees and shrubs for shelter from predators and the elements.
As homeowners, we’re familiar with frequent backyard visitors like robins and cardinals, but Bob says we’d be amazed at the different native and migrating species we can support with the right landscape resources in place. Although often unseen, hummingbirds, orioles, and even interesting native sparrows are nearby too. Bob hopes we can reverse the trend toward habitat loss and bring these fascinating creatures into our own spaces where we can appreciate their beauty and unique connection to the world around us.
If you share Bob’s passion for backyard birds and want to learn more, join us on Saturday, October 7th, at 10am for Bird-Friendly Landscapes. Just give us a quick call at 402-496-0700 to let us know you’ll be here.