The Audubon Society of Greater Denver, which has its Nature Center at the south edge of Chatfield State Park, will hold its first-ever Bird Habitat Garden Tour on July 25 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The gardens are located in southwest Littleton and …
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The Audubon Society of Greater Denver, which has its Nature Center at the south edge of Chatfield State Park, will hold its first-ever Bird Habitat Garden Tour on July 25 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The gardens are located in southwest Littleton and feature designs with birds in mind. The essentials for attracting birds include food, nesting sites, shelter and water.
And, it goes without saying — no insecticides. (On the National Wildlife Federation website, we read that 96 percent of terrestrial birds rear their young on insects. That includes caterpillars in great numbers, so a bird habitat remains fairly insect-free.)
These gardens will demonstrate a diversity of plants and trees in a variety of settings, and the owners as well as Audubon staff and gardeners who have created their own bird-friendly landscapes will be on hand with helpful suggestions for creating a bird habitat in our sometimes difficult hot, dry climate.
A year-round source of water is very important and can be a birdbath, which is heated in the winter, or a little fountain that will draw feathered friends consistently to drink and bathe.
There are numerous resources to help with designing a bird and butterfly habitat. One might start with the National Wildlife Federation's website, which describes basic principles: water, food, nesting sites and shelter. Then seek out plant lists of native Colorado species.
Wild Birds Unlimited has published plant lists, including specific plants for specific birds.
Finches, for example like rabbitbrush, apple trees, cottonwood, scrub (Gambel) oak, mountain ash, aspen, boxelder, Colorado blue spruce, pines and sunflowers.
Chickadees are fond of serviceberry, scrub (Gambel) oak, squawbush sumac, Colorado blue spruce and sunflowers.
Native plants that attract birds generally include the above plus sandcherry, Western chokecherry, pyracantha, serviceberry, ponderosa and pinon pines.
Hummingbirds are attracted by: Virginia creeper, trumpetvine, beebalm, penstemon, scarlet gilia, yucca, currant, gooseberry, columbine, delphinium and phlox.
Leave a dead tree standing and provide a pile of brush for nesting sites.
Remove invasive plants that do not host native insects.
And keep cats inside.
Local gardeners can also visit the bird garden installed a couple years ago at the south end of Hudson Gardens for plant ideas. And, of course, take notes in these tour gardens and at Hudson Gardens for flowers that attract butterflies and bees.
There is a nationwide effort to encourage planting for these pollinators, because their habitats have diminished across the land.
The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas, has lists of recommended plants by region and state: wildflower.org/collections. The CSU Extension offices have lists as well.
If you go
The Audubon Society's first annual Bird Habitat Garden Tour is July 25 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tickets cost $15 and can be purchased at 303-973-9530 or denveraudubon.org/programs/current-events. On the day of the event, maps and wristbands can be picked up at Front Range Birding Co., 10146 San Juan Way #110, Littleton (303-979-2473) or at Creek Side Gardens, 5730 West Coal Mine Ave., Littleton (303-933-8493).
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