Look out your back window or door — describe what you see, as if you were trying to convey the scene to someone from another country or planet.
Our backyard is “Tree and Shrub Central” — a haven for the birds, and our attempt to recreate a bit of the forest. A pair of towering, 100-foot Douglas Firs–seeded decades ago near the fences–stretch up to the skies, while an eclectic mix of Viburnum, laurel, spurge, pyracantha, cotoneaster, and Mountain Fire shrubs of varying heights offer a colourful canopy and private retreat for feathered visitors from the rains that the West Coast is famous for.
Every day, birdsong fills the air, although the symphonies vary from singer to singer, and season to season. The respective arias of the Downy Woodpeckers, Black-Capped Chickadees, Dark-Eyed Juncos, Song Sparrows, House Sparrows, House Finches, Golden-Crowned Sparrows, White-Crowned Sparrows, Varied Thrushes, Robins, and Spotted Towhees can turn our backyard into an orchestra pit to rival that of a wildlife sanctuary.The singers make themselves visible periodically during feeding times — usually in the early morning, around noon, and just before the last light of day.
Our feathered friends do not confine their visitations to the “forest proper”, but turn the backyard garden–dotted with plum, apple, pear, cherry, and peach fruit trees, and food plants, including blackcurrant, blackberry, raspberry, grape, Swiss chard, blueberry, pole bean, tomato, fennel, radicchio, squash, carrot, beets, kale, and turnip, cultivated in plots or pots–into their general playground and an impromptu runway–which make for ample photo opportunities.
Fauna are not limited to the feathered kind; squirrels come to partake of the free food, as do raccoons, who come to eat and leave their business cards, although the new shed has reduced much of the clearing that they use as a dumping ground. The neighbourhood cats will come and take a prowl, but the birds are wise to them and know when to vacate to higher ground.
Tree cones and seeds pepper the lawn frequently, for our surrounding neighbours also plant trees of their own and believe in making their backyards bird-friendly habitats. Bird feeding stations are everywhere you look, and birdhouses are common sights on fences and in trees.