Welcome to my Bird Blog!

Welcome to all my fellow bird lovers and gardeners! I'm so glad you stopped by.

Migratory bird populations have taken a nose dive in the past 40 years. But you can help bring their numbers back by creating beneficial, beautiful and fun habitats in your own backyard. Discover favorite plants and environments that shelter and feed colorful songbirds, as well as how to make them feel welcome by offering their preferred natural foods.

Grandma Pearl
(Connie Smith)

Friday, September 27, 2013

Leave Some Leaves For the Birds

Maple Leaves are just starting to change
Photo by Grandma Pearl
My leaves are changing colors, and there is a definite chill in the air.   I can smell that crisp autumn leaf aroma, which will become more pronounced as the next couple of weeks pass by.  With the leaves comes the inevitable task of raking and bagging.  They tell me raking leaves is good for the waistline, and for strengthening arm and back muscles.  I don’t know about that, but I do know that I end up with aches and pains, as well as calluses on my hands!

Nine times out of ten, the wind picks up my piles before I have a chance to bag them.  Why is it that the wind decides to gust just when you have finished your raking chores?  Here in the woods, I don’t have any neighbors whose leaf piles might blow into my yard, thank goodness.   Being surrounded by all kinds of hardwood trees, however, the task of raking is multiplied tenfold!
Leaves are changing already in late September
Photo by Grandma Pearl

Many thanks to the inventor of the leaf vacs and blowers that now populate the shelves at the neighborhood hardware store.  They do make short work of an otherwise overwhelming task.  My contraption is a combination of a vacuum and a blower.  So my first job is to blow the leaves into windrows.  From there I can convert to the vacuum and bagger, and proceed to turn those windrows into nutrient-rich mulch.

Most of my mulch I bag up and store for next spring’s plantings.  Another large bunch I use to cover my flower beds.  I like to make the depth about 8” to 12” because it will be weighed down by snow.  When the soil begins to warm again, the earthworms will efficiently incorporate that golden layer into the earth.  It’s a process that greatly enhances the health of the good microbial activity necessary to help your plant roots easily assimilate nutrients they need to flourish.
Insect Egg Mass cradled inside dead fallen leaf
Photo by Grandma Pearl

But I also save some leaves for my birds.  Ground forages especially love to sift through the dead foliage for tiny critters and their eggs.  Birds like juncos, sparrow, robins and catbirds especially enjoy the millions of insects to be found in the mulched leaves.   This ‘top dressing’ I save for under my shrubs and berry bushes.  A thick layer serves to protect the roots during the bitter cold of winter.

Before it does turn really cold, though, my backyard birds will benefit from the extra nutrition found in that leaf mulch buffet table I set out for them!  Some of my birds wait until later to leave on their migratory journeys southward.  For them, this leaf mulch is an extra food source to help them on their way.

So do your backyard birds a favor, and leave some leaves for them!

No comments: