Autumn is the best time of the year to create some brush piles for the birds in your backyard. Fall trimmings can be piled up in a corner or along the edge of the yard, where it will give ground-inhabiting birds additional cover against winter weather and predators.
About half the birds that we feed in our backyards spend much of their lives on the ground nesting, roosting and in search of food. Piles of brush are ideal protective cover for resident and migrating white-throated, white-crowned, and fox sparrows. Song sparrows, tree sparrows, and field sparrows all visit backyards, and should benefit from brush pile cover. Dark-eyed juncos, towhees, winter wrens, quail, pheasants, and ground doves, also spend a great deal of their lives on the ground, and seek the kind of cover in backyards that brush piles offer.
An evergreen tree that has been cut down will also make excellent cover for ground inhabiting birds when the tree is laid on its side along a fence row or in a corner of the yard. Discarded Christmas trees give the same kind of cover. Even piles of rocks and logs will furnish some cover for birds during cold weather or when there is a threat from predators.
So, next weekend, take a look around your yard for pruning and clipping opportunities. No only will a little trimming improve the appearance of the yard, but it will also help a few birds and other wildlife survive the winter.
-- George H. Harrison