Webmaster: Mike Chapman
How to Make a Bird-Friendly Sanctuary
Your place of worship is a sanctuary for all who enter, including our beloved
birds. This week, Pope Francis is urging Catholics—and all humans—to realize the
gravity of climate change and take steps to address it. Even individuals can
take action, in the form of making sure gardens and sanctuaries are
bird-friendly. Use the steps below to create and maintain a bird-friendly
habitat that brings colorful birds, sweet melodies, and vibrant colors and
nature’s gifts close to us.
Like us, birds need food, water, and shelter in every season and stage of life. You can transform the outdoor space at your place of worship into a bird sanctuary that also saves resources such as water and combats climate change (native plants sequester carbon). The secret to success lies in choosing locally native plants, which brim with nutritious insects, berries, nectar and seed to give birds vital food and refuge.
1. Select a
site that’s practical to convert into a garden and allows room to expand. And
choose native plants that are adapted to your particular growing conditions such
as the amount of sunlight or shade, the type of soil, and the amount of
precipitation the site receives.
· Light—Do you have full sun? Partial sun? Shade?
· Soil—Is it rocky, loamy, sandy, clay, or gravel? Does it drain well?
· Unique features—Is your site flat or hilly? Windy? Near water? What’s the elevation?
2. Plan for a variety of shapes, sizes, and kinds of plants to give vertical structure to your garden.
· Cluster the same plant species together.
· Design for color palettes and seasonal blooms.
· Add habitat features like hollowed boulders that catch rainwater for birds to drink and bathe in.
3. Prepare your garden well to save headaches later. If your site currently
has turf grass or invasive plants, you will need to remove these, and you may
want to enrich your soil by adding organic compost. An easy method is to lay
down newspaper at least six sheets deep, with plenty of overlap; wet it down;
cover it with 4 to 6 inches of mulch; and let it sit until you are ready to
plant. Use deep edging—putting some sort of barrier (steel or plastic edging)
that goes into the ground to separate the native plant area from the lawn
area—to keep out lawn grass.
4. Plant in spring or fall and on cooler days. Follow planting instructions carefully and get tips on mulching around plants from the plant nursery or gardening center. Water only as needed when young plants are adapting to their new habitat.
5. Steward your native plant garden with tender loving care.
· Pull up noxious and invasive weeds.
· Enhance your garden area with brush piles that hide birds and shelter other wildlife too.
· Leave dead trees and branches that nourish life.
6. Focus on native plants that support the highest variety and quantity of bird food.
· Red tubular flowers such as columbine, jewelweed, and bee balm serve up nectar for hummingbirds.
· Native sunflowers, asters, and coneflowers produce seeds for songbirds.
· Bushes with berries ripen at different times, so include seasonal variety: dogwood and spicebush for songbirds flying south; cedar and holly trees to sustain birds through cold winter days and nights.