Documents: Container & Small Space Gardening:

Building A Backyard Bird Habitat (Bird Feeding, Gardening, Nest Boxes, Winter Shelter)

...a book review
by Carol Matthews
by Carol Matthews


Carol Matthews Writer/Editor/Photographer Yarmouth, Nova Scotia

Member of the Periodical Writers Association of Canada

Member of the Garden Writers Association of America

Author of "Frommer's Halifax", March 2003

March 24, 2002

Building A Backyard Bird Habitat (Bird Feeding, Gardening, Nest Boxes, Winter Shelter)

By Scott Shalaway, 116 pages, 8 colour pages, Paperback, $16.95 US

As a garden writer and birder I’m always attracted to books on how to entice birds to our backyards. Locating a feeder in the middle of an exotic garden or bare lawn will bring a few birds, but a feeder that is surrounded by native plantings that also provide food, shelter and nesting possibilities will become the hot spot in the neighbourhood. Scott Shalaway’s book has lots to offer if you are looking for information on how to make your yard a bird-friendly place.
Beginning with the ecological impact of backyard birding and ending with ideas on how to better enjoy birds, the book covers the basic aspects of what you need to do to create a backyard habitat. Shalaway gives information on how to discover which foods the birds in your area prefer, how to identify the common visitors, and directions on how to build a feeding station. Water is another necessity and the book provides ideas on how to provide water year round, as well as directions for a simple pond and dust bath. The information on nest boxes is helpful and interesting, especially the suggestions for building a natural looking nest box, and the suggestions on ways to predator-proof them.
My main interest, of course, was his information on developing natural habitat in your own backyard. Shalaway has suggestions for plantings that provide year-round food and protection, plus a section on plantings to attract hummingbirds, in particular. Unfortunately, due to the length of the book, this information could only skim the surface of possibilities. 
The book is an interesting read with personal stories and anecdotes, but could use more photographs, and diagrams to illustrate the ideas presented. Shalaway offers a variety of helpful suggestions and directions, and I know I will use to this book for hints about backyard birding.
Shalaway holds a Ph.D. in wildlife ecology and has written for numerous birding magazines. Although he is from the U.S., his book is relevant to the Canadian region, and the plants and shrubs he recommends are readily available.
While somewhat expensive for a paperback, I’d recommend it to beginner and intermediate birders for their reference shelf, or experienced birders who are just starting to garden.

Donna's note ... this book can be ordered through our site.


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