National Geographic : 1914 Mar
ENCOURAGING BIRDS AROUND THE HOME BY FREDERICK H. KENNARD NOW that our country has really awakened to the importance of bird life to the citizens, and at last enacted some very wise legislation, forbidding the killing of migratory and insectivorous birds, putting migratory game birds under Federal control, and forbidding the importation of plumage from abroad, public interest in birds and their great economic value seems to have been stirred as never before.* Spring will soon be here, and those of us who are thinking of doing our little toward attracting the birds must be get ting ready for the early arrivals from the South. Birds come north for the very special purpose of finding a proper place for the rearing of their young, and, this task ac complished, as autumn approaches, soon depart in search of areas where there will be throughout the winter plenty of food and cover and a more congenial cli mate. If we want to make our homes at tractive to birds, we must always keep the above facts in mind. If in summer we want to attract the migrants from the South, as well as the permanent resi dents, we must furnish them with proper places for the rearing of their young, which should include not only nesting sites, but cover, food, and water; and if in winter we want to keep some of the permanent residents about our homes and attract migrants from the North, we must remember that they are again in search of food and cover. Once having attracted the birds, a sharp lookout must be kept in order to protect them from their enemies-cats, bird-hunting dogs, red squirrels, skunks, foxes, and other predatory animals, not * Numerous reports on the economical value of birds have been issued by the United States Department of Agriculture. One of the best books on the subject is entitled "Birds in Their Relation to Man," by Weed and Dearborn, published by J. B . Lippincott & Co., Phila delphia, Pa. forgetting the small boy that used to be ubiquitous; English sparrows, horned owls, and sometimes crows and jays, cooper and sharp-shinned hawks, and last, but not least, the black snake. HOW TO ATTRACT THE BIRDS To sum up, if we are to attract birds in summer, we must furnish them with proper nesting sites, cover, food, and also water;. and if we want to keep them in winter, we must again furnish them with cover and food, and always protect them from their enemies. The most important factor in attract ing birds is the supplying of cover suit able for their wants. With this properly done, except in the case of birds that nest about buildings or in holes, nature will supply the nesting sites, as well as take care of the food supply, except in winter. At "The Pines," my place in Newton Center, Mass., we -have had for eight years under close observation about 44 acres, comprising three acres of lawn dotted with a few old apple trees, six acres of wet meadow, which are allowed to grow up with tussocks of grass, cedars, alders, wild roses, and the like, and the remaining 35 acres divided in two areas of about equal size. The first of these areas, that about the house, is covered with a growth of pines, hemlocks, ce dars, birches and various other deciduous trees, among which we have taken pains to cultivate suitable coppice and under growth, while the second area, covered with deciduous woods, is, on account of a fire that ran through it a number of years ago, almost devoid of the smaller evergreens or protecting coppice and undergrowth (see pages 319 and 320). In the first of these areas (page 319) some thirty different species of birds t A useful book that every one should read who is interested in birds is "Methods of At tracting Birds," by Gilbert H. Trafton, pub lished by the Houghton-Mifflin Co. of Boston, Mass.