In this issue: fall gardening for birds, fresh website updates, and a delicious new challenge.

The Dirt: News from YardMap
Joining together to break new ground for birds

September 2012

Hermit Thrush by Robin Arnold
Hermit Thrush eating a wild grape. Photo by Robin Arnold via Birdshare.

Fall gardening for birds

As migratory birds begin to wing their way south, they are busily trying to pack on as much fat as possible while avoiding predators. This is also a time for the gardener to think about fall chores. You might be thinking of cleaning up your flower beds or raking leaves this time of year. As gardeners, we can help ensure that migrants and year-round residents enter the winter months in the best possible condition. Here are some things that you can do now to plump up the birds with fuel for their journey:
  • Leave seedheads on flowers and resist pruning shrubs with persistent fruit, where possible.
  • If pruning is necessary, don't put cut seedheads and/or berry branches in the compost pile. Arrange them in natural bouquets and secure them to a post, fence, or bird feeder.
  • Rather than bagging up fallen leaves, rake them under shrubs or hedges where birds can forage in them for insects. The decomposing leaves will also recycle nutrients to your plants as free mulch.
  • Clean out the contents of your nest boxes with soap and water, and keep them available for winter roosting habitat. Warm birds burn fewer calories.
  • Give your bird feeders their seasonal cleaning, and dry thoroughly before filling them.
  • Now is the time to scope out a local nursery for sales on fall-fruiting shrubs like Viburnum species, dogwoods, crabapples, bayberry, and others that provide food for birds. They may not look like much now, but they'll fill out next year.
Shorter daylight periods and hormonal changes trigger migratory birds to move south for the winter. Providing food and shelter for them won't disrupt this annual behavior or make birds "dependent" on you. In fact, it will give them the energy and safety that they need to travel hundreds, if not thousands, of miles to their winter residence...many of them for the first time in their life. Bid them farewell with these tips, and they may just remember to stop by your place again in the spring.
Website updates let you map happier.
Enjoy easier mapping with these updates to YardMap.

Website updates

We have been working to incorporate feedback provided by participants like you into our newest website updates. Here are some changes you will find on your next visit to YardMap:
  • You can now edit a vertex while you are still drawing. Click, fix, and carry on!
  • Messed up pretty badly? Escape key functionality now gives you a quick way out if you make a mistake.
  • Easily manage your account information by clicking on your user name.
  • Objects, like bird feeders or trees, now have a more intuitive drop location. Drag, drop, done.
  • Now you can click on the site marker to bring up your site's infowindow.
  • We also fixed some annoying bugs that occasionally caused error messages.
Now is a great time to get back into YardMap and make some updates to your site. As always, we thank you for your patience during our "beta" period. We strive to continually improve the application, and your feedback helps. So keep talking. We're listening.

A Tasty Challenge

Organic Chard
Organic Chard by Suzie's Farm.
Going organic benefits the birds in your yard by reducing their exposure to toxins. We want to see your best home-grown organic veggies or fruits from this summer. Have succulent squashes, excellent eggplants, or tasty tomatoes? You don’t have to share them in real life, just send us a picture!
How to Enter
To participate in this challenge, just make a post in our Challenges blog under the "submit & browse" tab, or in the Community Challenges Group. Include the following information:
  1. A title (e.g., "My blue-ribbon blueberries")
  2. A link to an image of the organic goodness
  3. This series of characters exactly: #myorganicveggie
Don't have anything to share yet? You can learn more about bird-friendly edibles in our Vegetable Gardens article.
Northern Mockingbird and Common Winterberry
Northern Mockingbird on Common Winterberry by Janet Allen.

Featured Site: Stewardship Garden

Our newest featured site was created by Janet Allen of Syracuse, New York. For 12 years, Janet and her husband have worked to create this Stewardship Garden on one-third of an acre in Central New York. Her garden is even certified as a Wildlife Habitat with the National Wildlife Federation! Read her story here, then visit her garden on the map, check out her tiny lawn, and be sure to leave a comment for Janet if something sparks your curiosity. And if you're just getting started as a habitat gardener, especially if you live in the Northeast, visit her website to learn more about the plants and animals she enjoys.


  • Ask your question in our tech support community, powered by Get Satisfaction
  • Ask fellow participants your bird and plant questions in The Community, our social network for habitat stewards
  • Email us

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