Paula's Patch: A Minnesota Garden

Come wander in; my gate is always open! Gardening / Birding

Creating a Yard That Attracts Wildlife September 23, 2014

red-bellied_woodpecker_photo_collage | | paula bonelli

red-bellied woodpecker

Any effort you make to add plantings to your yard will attract all sorts of wildlife. When we bought our small town lot 20+ years ago, there was no landscaping of any sort — no trees, shrubs, or flowers.

Slowly over the years, we’ve added beds, trees, shrubs, and flowers and have been amazed at what comes to our yard! We’ve had small animals like a woodchuck, raccoon, and baby skunk. We’ve also attracted many varieties of birds from woodpeckers to hummingbirds. All in town on a small little lot.

So go ahead, add some plants and flowers even if you add them in pots around a balcony or deck — see what comes to visit! 😉

Check out the latest issue of my online paper Paula’s Garden Patch News and find tips for creating a habitat in your own backyard that will attract all kinds of wildlife.


Tips for Helping Birds Avoid Deadly Collisions July 23, 2014

bird-sitting-in-window-clipart |

Earlier this spring, we lost a female grosbeak to a deadly collision with one of our garage windows. 😦 I quickly put decals in the windows to avoid this mishap in the future. Did you know hundreds of birds die each year due to collisions with windows? A particular concern is in urban areas with tall glass buildings.

Here are a few tips for helping our feathered friends avoid deadly collisions with your windows:

  • Place window decals 2-4 in apart
  • Install external screens on windows
  • Close blinds and curtains when possible
  • Keep feeders 30 ft from windows
  • Move houseplants away from windows

For a humorous video by The Audubon Society, visit this issue of my newsletter: Tuesday, Jul. 22, 2014 – Paula’s Garden Patch News


Are you dreaming of Spring? March 13, 2013

You can bury a lot of troubles digging in the dirt! What are you planning to plant this year?

I’d like to add a shrub that bears berries to attract even more birds. The birds love the 2 dogwood shrubs I have, but there aren’t enough berries to go around. That has me dreaming of shrubs that bear fruit, particularly berries. The small stature and perennial nature of a bush or shrub will work nicely in my yard. The trick will be to find something that likes partial shade; most prefer full sun.

Some I’ll consider for my zone (4a):

blueberry_u-of-mn | paulasgardenpatch | paula bonelli

Blueberry, Univ of MN Extension

elderberry | paulasgardenpatch | paula bonelli

Elderberry, Univ of MN Extension

urrant_gooseberry_u-of-mn | paulasgardenpatch | paula bonelli

Currant (L), Gooseberry (R), Univ of MN Extension

juneberry_serviceberry_u-of-mn | paulasgardenpatch | paula bonelli

Juneberry/Serviceberry, Univ of MN Extension

sandcherry_u-of-mn | paulasgardenpatch | paula bonelli

Sandcherry, Univ of MN Extension

huckleberry_u-of-mn | paulasgardenpatch | paula bonelli

Huckleberry, Univ of MN Extension

You’ll want to do some research or ask your local garden center if you plan to add these to your garden. Some require more than one plant for cross-pollination to bear fruit. As I found, there is a wealth of information at your local extension office (county or state).

Start planning now if you’re dreaming of Spring. 🙂


Cedar Waxwings October 4, 2012

Lunchtime visit from 2 juvenile Cedar Waxwings. Someone didn’t tell them that the Warblers and Vireos were already here and ate ALL the berries off the dogwood. 😦

Here’s a peek at the last one before he got blown away by a wind gust!


This cute male Northern Cardinal also stopped by for a nibble.


Are you seeing any migratory birds passing through?


Baby Bird Antics June 15, 2012

The yard has been a hotbed of baby bird activity. My hubby and I get such a kick out of watching the newbies find their way in our yard.

They check out the feeders, but aren’t sure just how to land or stand to get at the food, often slipping off their perch! The Downy Woodpeckers haven’t figured out how to land on top of the feeder, instead they try to hang on to the pole of the shepherd’s hook. They look so funny sliding down.

juvenile downy woodpecker | | paula bonell

juvenile downy woodpecker

The Chickadees and Nuthatches are curious and not a bit afraid of us. While I was filling a small tray feeder with black-oiled sunflower seeds, a wee Chickadee was so close I thought sure he’d eat right out of my hand.

I bet there are no less than 8 baby Robins flitting around with their high-pitched, squeaky “feed me” sounds.  The only reason you can even tell they are juveniles is from their spotty breast. Otherwise they are already the size of their parents.

baby robins on fence | | paula bonelli

3 baby robins

baby robin | | paula bonelli

baby robin

The other night while having supper on the deck, we watched a Nuthatch chase away a Downy Woodpecker by flaring his wings out and holding his ground on the suet feeder. I’ve never seen them defend a feeder like that before. True entertainment!

What bird antics have been happening in your yard?


Nesting Update May 8, 2012

What’s nesting in your yard?

tree swallow | | paula bonelli

tree swallow

In my yard, the Tree Swallows are well underway building their nest and the House Wren returned last week, hopefully to woo a female by building a nest in the box and loudly proclaiming “Look, I built a wonderful home for you”!

mourning dove | | paula bonelli

mourning dove

I think the Mourning Doves moved to the pine tree out front after having their first nest ravaged by a Cooper’s Hawk. The robins are building at the top of a pine near our deck. I’m not sure we’ll be able to see the nest activities, but we’re sure to see the fledglings out and about in the yard when the time comes.

american robin | | paula bonelli

You can help birds by putting out natural or man-made nesting materials near nesting sites, in wire mesh suet feeders or draped on trees or shrubs.

  • Twigs and leaves
  • Dry grass as long as it hasn’t been treated with pesticides
  • Yarn or string cut into 6-inch pieces
  • Pet hair if the pets haven’t received flea or tick treatments
  • Feathers
  • Cottonwood down or cotton batting
  • Pine needles
  • Strips of cloth approximately 1-inch wide and 6-inches long
reminder image | | paula bonelli

Don’t Forget!

Check out the live nestcams and catch up on the Great Blue Herons, Red-Tailed Hawks or Decorah Eagles (under the Birding tab in upper right). All the nestlings are growing!

P.S. Spotted our first hummer of the year on Monday, May 7!! And rumor has it the Orioles are around also, but we haven’t seen them at our feeders yet.

Related posts:

House Wren


Mourning Dove


Serenaded by a Red-winged Blackbird April 24, 2012

Each Spring, I wait for the “rush hour” of migration. This usually means that for several days, migrating birds are passing through and filling up at my feeders. By now I have my jelly, nectar and plenty of tray and hopper feeders full, in anticipation.

Even though I have no body of water nearby, each Spring I’m serenaded by a Red-winged Blackbird. I have no idea why he stops by my yard. He doesn’t eat any of the feeder food, he just rests in my tree and sings to me. 🙂

red-winged blackbird | | paula bonelli

red-winged blackbird

Nesting activity:
Several weeks ago a pair of Mourning Doves built a nest in a pine tree at the back of the yard. They were incubating 2 eggs. As part of my NestWatch participation, I’m monitoring the nests in and near my yard. Last evening, I didn’t notice any activity on the nest. Evening is a time when birds sit in their nests on their eggs, so I thought it was odd that they weren’t around. This morning, no sign of them either. Since the birds were not present*, I got out the ladder and looked to see if the eggs were still there. No eggs! 😦 I’ve seen a squirrel around that area and in that tree. I think he ate the eggs. Ugh. Squirrel beware! I’ve got your number…

I did hear them cooing in the front yard this morning, so I hope they’ll build another nest in the front pine.
*Don’t disturb nests while a bird is present. Doing so may frighten the parent(s) and may disturb the eggs. In some cases, the birds may abandon a nest if they feel threatened.

I’m also watching a pair of Tree Swallows build a nest in one of our nest boxes. They return each year to raise their young. They’ve been in the vicinity checking out the box they usually use.

tree swallow | nesting in nestbox | | paula bonelli

tree swallow nesting

Today I saw them with nesting materials. Won’t be long before we have eggs!

If you haven’t checked in on the Red-tailed Hawk nestcam, the first egg hatched and #2 and #3 are beginning…find the link under the Birding/Nestcams tab in the upper right corner of this page.

What birds have you seen in your yard lately? Any migrating species?

P.S. When we were in Kansas last week watching my son compete in a Decathlon event at University of Kansas, we watched a Red-tailed Hawk soaring above Memorial Stadium for several days. Like the Cornell Red-tailed Hawk, the nest is on a light pole high above the athletic field. We watched both the male and female on the nest and got to see the male eating a rodent in a nearby tree. Very cool!


%d bloggers like this: