Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Gardening for the Birds (and a giveaway!)

This contest is now closed. 
Scroll down to see who won!
By Randen Pederson (originally posted to Flickr as Cedar Wax Wing) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Last year I became acquainted with cedar waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum) when they made a quick stop on my patio on their way to somewhere else. It was the first time I had ever noticed them, and their beautiful markings made me want them to return and stay longer.

If I had had a copy of Gardening for the Birds by George Adams then, it would have been quick work finding out details about their migration, breeding range and behavior, where they like to nest, what they like to eat and when, and which plants I might like to grow to keep them interested in my yard.

From page 372 of the book I now know that cedar waxwings prefer open and sparse woodlands, the edges of waterways, and gardens with berry-producing trees and shrubs. They do migrate, but migration can be erratic as it depends on the availability of fruiting trees.

And this: Cedar waxwings have an interesting breeding dance they do, hopping sideways on the branch with a berry or flower petal. The male looks for a responsive female to take it from him and then give it back in a particular way. Then they pass it back and forth several times in a kind of rhythm.

More: They are late nesters since the young need fruit, and they build their nests between 6 and 40 feet off the ground in deciduous or coniferous shrubs and trees.

The adults eat mostly fruit and berries, but they are also fond of cankerworms. (Charlotte could definitely use more cedar waxwings, in that case!) They can be rather gluttonous, eating to the point that they can no longer fly!

Most important for a gardener, some favorite plants of the cedar waxwing for food and shelter: serviceberries (Amelanchier spp.), hackberry (Celtis spp.), mountain ash (Sorbus spp.), and viburnum (Viburnum spp.). The book actually lists many more, so you'll have lots to choose from for your garden.

There are helpful charts of plants based on region that show fruiting months for the plant, its hardiness zone, mature size and whether it provides shelter, nesting, food, etc., or whether it has use for butterflies, hummingbirds, or has ornamental value.

Gardening for the Birds is packed with interesting, useful information about both birds and the native plants they depend on, but it's truly beautiful too. The photographs are excellent, the layout is gorgeous, and there are impressive pen and ink illustrations by the author himself.

I would go so far as to say that everyone interested in wildlife gardening should have this book! I have not seen a more thorough treatment of the subject by anyone for the home gardener, and the presentation is a quite a treat as well.

My one picky gripe is that the page numbers are at the top of the page and on the inside page edge (near the spine). This makes them hard to see—you have to open the book up almost completely to find out which page you're on.  So if you look something up in the index, you can't just flip easily to it. Maybe it's just me, but I found that distracting and annoying. That detail aside, you can't go wrong buying this for yourself or as a gift. It's great as a reference or simply to enjoy reading cover to cover.


Timber Press has offered to send one lucky reader a FREE copy of this book! Leave a comment here or on the A Charlotte Garden Facebook page for your chance to win!

If you mention the giveaway on Twitter, Google+, or Facebook (or all three), I will count each of those as entries as well. Please use #aCLTgarden in your posts so I can find them.

Entries will be accepted until Tuesday, September 3 at 11:59pm EDT.  The winner will be announced here the following morning.

Thank you for participating!

UPDATE 9.04.13: And the winner is...


Jan's sharing paid off—she wound up with more chances to win than anyone else! Congratulations, Jan!

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