Attracting Strangers


Most of us who feed birds all year long have a group of regulars that visit our backyards. Depending on where you live, this list will likely contain cardinals, different finches and sparrows, a nuthatch or two, chickadees and mourning doves. But what about the other wild bird species?

Chances are that you have more species around than you realize. Almost every neighborhood has diverse habitats nearby, such as a stand of trees, a bunch of shrubs, an abandoned patch of old fields or a combination of these areas. These islands of green can be magnets for a number of species.

Nearly any bush or shrub of reasonable size will harbor song sparrows. Look for the typical “small, brown birds” you see in commercial areas of you community and you will recognize these species.

Another wild bird you might find very close to your yard is the towhee. The Eastern variety loves leaf litter in the brushy undergrowth beneath the secondary wooded areas common in rural habitats. The first time you see leaves on the ground being flung up like a small tornado, you will remember your first towhee sighting. Towhees sing their trademark “Drink you tea” and have a characteristic note that sounds like “Chewink.”

Towhees sing their trademark “Drink you tea” and have a characteristic note that sounds like “Chewink.”
Towhees sing their trademark “Drink you tea” and have a characteristic note that sounds like “Chewink.”

Catbirds, thrashers and northern mockingbirds, members of the mimic family, are possible backyard visitors in similar habitats of dense low growth such as thickets, shrubs and bushes. Catbirds are robin-sized, grey birds that have a very distinct cat-like “mew” sound. Thrashers sing a variety of notes and regularly repeat the same version over and over again. Mockingbirds have an annoying habit of repeating the last sound they heard before darkness sets in. That barking dog you hear all night long may just have a set of wings!

Indigo buntings have a blue color all to their own. Just like the scales of a fish, the available light from the sun exposes hundreds of hues not found in a box of Crayola crayons. These beautiful visitors always grace our northern region to raise the next generation of unexpected guests on our backyards.

Enjoy your birds!

Wild Bird Depot is located on Rt 11 in Gilford, NH. Steve is a contributing author in major publications, a guest lecturer at major conventions in Atlanta and St. Louis as well as the host of WEZS 1350AM radio show “Bird Calls” with Lakes Region Newsday @ 8:30AM. Wild Bird Depot has donated over $5,000 to local rehabilitators and local nature centers since 1996. Be sure to check out our blog “Bird Droppings” via our website Like us on Facebook for great contests and prizes.