Look closely in your backyard and you might see this pileated woodpecker.

Take time to look through your backyard window -

Trapped together at home, moms, dads and the kids are facing new challenges.

Consider becoming a “backyard birder family.”

We are spending more time at home to help flatten that curve. Life is slower, with more time to watch what is happening in the backyard. You may be surprised at the number and variety of birds you will see once you take your eyes off the computer screen or iPhone and you look through your backyard window.

“Lake Houston is in the middle of two migratory flyways. Since we are close to the coast, we are a ‘refueling’ point for birds who have traveled across the Gulf,” said Matt Abernathy, assistant director at Jesse Jones Park and Nature Center in Humble. “We’re one of the top birding destinations every spring.”

Around 300 bird species can be seen in Lake Houston, Abernathy estimated. Most common are the northern cardinal, northern mockingbird, blue jay, red-bellied woodpecker, Carolina chickadee and Carolina wren.

“We have birds that live here all year long, some only in the summer or winter, and some just passing through during migration,” he said. “We’ve documented more than 200 species at Jones Park alone.”

It’s not difficult to get youngsters interested in becoming backyard birders. Abernathy says bird feeders and water features such as bird baths or fountains will make any yard more attractive to birds. Binoculars will help your youngsters view and study the birds clearly without disturbing them. A good field guide will help parents and youngster identify what they are looking at.

“To attract birds to your yard and make it more bird friendly, consider the four items necessary for all wildlife — food, water, cover and space,” said John Mims, owner of Wild Birds Unlimited of Kingwood.

Water is necessary to drink and to bath and clean feathers, Mims said. Not all birds eat at feeders, but all birds need drinking and bathing water. He recommends motion in the water from a dripper or WaterWiggler to attract birds and prevent mosquitoes from breeding in the birdbath.

He also recommends a good-quality, black-oil sunflower seed, providing birds with the fats and proteins they need.

If the family gets serious about ‘backyard birding,’ the next step may be landscaping with native plants to attract our feathered friends and provide food, shelter and nesting material and space.

Visit Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop in the Kings Crossing Shopping Center. Visit online to watch fascinating birding videos at kingwood.wbu.com. Jesse Jones Park programs and resources are found at hcp4.net/jones.

Tom Broad
Author: Tom BroadEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Columnist
Besides being a proud graduate of The University of Nebraska-Lincoln and, therefore, a Cornhusker, I am retired from Memorial Hermann. I am a correspondent and columnist for Lake Houston's hometown paper, The Tribune, as well as a director of the Lake Houston Redevelopment Corporation, a member of the board of the Humble Area Assistance Ministries, and Volunteer Extraordinaire for the Lake Houston Area Chamber.

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