A nationwide Save the Songbirds initiative is designed to save a million songbirds by creating 50,000 acres of habitat for them across the country.
Hudson Gardens in Littleton is a participant. The program was made possible by a grant from Scotts Songbird Selections, a division of Scott’s Miracle Grow, plus contributions from the Audubon Society of Greater Denver, Front Range Birding Company and the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District. In fall 2012, space was set aside for a Songbird Garden in the northwest quarter of Hudson Gardens — past the amphitheater.
Trees were planted, or existing ones were incorporated, and feeders and nest boxes were installed. A planting plan, chosen for food and cover, was published looking ahead to spring 2013, when select perennials would be added. Scientists specializing in botany and ornithology approved plant and feeder choices and future plans for appropriate plantings.
On May 21, Hudson Gardens volunteers planted perennials to fill in the prepared beds. The garden will be visible from the Monet water gardens as well as the edge of the amphitheater and will offer information that encourages individuals to make home gardens into wildlife sanctuaries. A bird-friendly habitat can be created in any landscape, with food, water, cover and a place to raise young.
Basic tips for a backyard bird habitat include:
• Choose plants for function rather than appearance.
• Plant trees and shrubs that offer heavy fruit production. (Birds especially like red and blue-colored berries.)
• Skip the grass and substitute bird-friendly plants.
• Layer your landscape to emulate a natural environment.
• Don’t deadhead. Let plants set seed to serve as food.
• Leaf litter is good. Place piles of raked plant material under trees and shrubs to provide cover and insects.
• Go organic. Use non-chemical management methods to tame pests and diseases when possible. Herbicides and pesticides can be ingested by birds if they feed on affected insects or plants.
Plant material in Hudson Gardens’ Songbird Garden includes sunset hyssop, redosier dogwood, hedge cotoneaster, Russian Hawthorne, blanket flower, dotted gayfeather, Arnold’s red honeysuckle, tall Oregon grape holly, Oregon grape holly, bee balm, beardlip penstemon, Austrian pine, narrowleaf cottonwood, Mexican coneflower, golden currant, little bluestem grass and Indian grass.
The Gardens also offer monthly Bird Walks, classes on many aspects of gardening and seasonal special gardens. A mentorship program in beekeeping provides opportunities to learn this popular activity. For information on dates and fees, see hudsongardens.org/programs.
Nearby is Joshua Weiner’s recently installed steel sculpture of a giant, all-inclusive nest — an appropriate companion piece.
Hudson Gardens and Event Center is at 6115 S. Santa Fe Drive, Littleton. Open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., except for early closing on Sundays when concerts are scheduled in summer. Admission is free. 303-797-8565.