Birds are attracted to certain elevations. Therefore, a good wild bird sanctuary will have short shrubs, small trees and shrubs, medium tall trees and shrubs and very tall trees.
Clean water is an essential element to any wild bird sanctuary. It is important to note that vegetation around the edges of the water helps small birds gain easy access.
Motionless water will become stagnant and attract mosquitos; however, mosquitos will attract such birds as Yellow Warblers, known for their exceptionally sweet song voice. Yet, generally speaking, birds need clean water sources to drink and in which to bath.
A pond or slowly moving river will provide a place for Canadian Geese and Mallards to rest for the night. If an abundance of fish live in the water, Pelicans, five feet tall with a wingspan of nine feet, may be keenly interested. The Great Egret, Sandhill Cranes and the Great Blue Heron will be attracted to some geographic areas where they find plenty of water.
And, what greater majesty is bestowed upon water graced by Swans?
Canadian Geese and other waterfowl will forage for insects and seeds in a meadow during the day and migrate back to a pond or slow moving river for the evening where they eat aquatic plants.
Beautifully landscaped meadows are also an attraction to human visitors who might wish to purchase a ready made picnic basket from one of the restaurants within the sanctuary and enjoy a free concert by the world’s most dear sopranos and tenors.
Native plants have adapted to the growing conditions in your local area and typically need less water, fertilizer and maintenance than other plants. So, it is wise to plant trees and shrubs that are a good sources of berries, nuts and nectar, which have provided food to the local native wild birds for many generations.
Select a variety of plants that bloom during all four seasons of the year. Think about selecting plants which can be used by wildlife for a variety of purposes throughout the year. Evergreen trees and shrubs are such a plant for they provide shelter for wildlife year-round.
The canopy is extremely important. To understand why, let’s put ourselves in the bird’s place for a moment.
A constant threat to our lives would be birds of prey. The Sharp-shinned Hawk, for instance, soars silently, high above its victims then strikes its prey like a meteor. And, because of its short rounded wings and long tail, it can even maneuver through vegetation. But the thicker the vegetation, the better are the chances of survival for small birds. Thus, a thick canopy will save the lives of many birds from predators.
For example, a Shumard oak provides food for songbirds, wild turkey, quail and waterfowl. According to the US Forest Service, a Shumard oak, when fully grow will occupy approximately 3025 square feet (55 ft. x 55 ft.), which is fourteen trees per acre (43,560 sq. ft. / 3025 = 14.4).
So, fourteen Shumard oaks will cover one acre. This may give you a basis for planning part of your landscape design and budget.