Providing Shelter and Cover to Attract Birds to the North Coast Pacific Garden
Birds rely on plants to provide shelter from the elements as well as
cover from predators. Shelter may mean relief from midday sun or a place to
roost for the night - or it may mean refuge from soaking rain, biting wind,
or freezing cold. Almost anything leafy will serve for shade or an overnight
stay, but it takes a heavier canopy of foliage to shield against harsher
elements. In the coastal mountains, needle-leafed evergreen trees and shrubs
are a must for birds that stay in the area. Even in milder climates at the
coast, birds appreciate groups of dense, broad-leafed evergreen trees,
shrubs, and vines for shelter against rain and wind.
Birds seek different kinds of cover depending on which predators they're
evading. Potential hawk prey (hawks are those tall birds that sit on lamp
posts and tree tops, looking for anything that's smaller and moves) often
find enough protection on a convenient tree limb. Thick shrubbery provides a
good hideaway from a feline hunter, as long as it's open enough for a quick
entry by the bird yet dense enough to foil or slow down the cat. Be sure to
plant shrubs far enough away that they don't become the cat's cover for a
sneak attack on the birdbath or feeder.
Thorns offer an asset to any foliaged hideaway for birds, since they
deter predators. Even better than a single shrub is a grouping that
approximates a natural thicket or tangle.