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Natural attraction

Texas native brings love of bird watching to Wind Crest

Created date

November 23rd, 2010

Bird watcher Steve Walters admits that the bird feeders he has hanging at his Highlands Ranch home bring him as much pleasure as the hundreds of hungry feathered friends they attract. I love watching the birds as they fuss with one another over the feeders, says Walters, who jokingly refers to himself as the bird man at Wind Crest where he lives. Apparently Walters is not alone in his love of the spectator sport. CBS News reports birding as the second fastest growing hobby in America with an estimated 48 million, or one out of five, American bird enthusiasts. Walters began feeding birds from his balcony when he moved three years ago from Bay City, Tex. In Texas I had at least three to four bird feeders and a backyard full of birds all the time, says Walters. When I moved to Wind Crest, I had brought this giant shell with me that I didn t know what to do with. So I put it on my balcony and filled it with birdseed, he says. For about three or four weeks no birds visited the feeder, and then all of a sudden some finches began to show up. They kept coming back after that, and I had a steady supply of finches visiting my balcony. In fact, Walter s balcony buffet began attracting so many birds that he soon needed to find another location for his hobby. I got together with the Wind Crest staff and asked them about putting a bird feeder outside of the community s clubhouse for everyone to enjoy, says Walters.

Bird fever

For his part, Walters agreed to provide a squirrel-proof bird feeder and volunteered to tend to the feeder, keeping it clean and filled. The feeder was an instant success both with the birds and with Walter s neighbors. We get all kinds of species, from red winged blackbirds to blue jays, says Walters. They are good customers right though the winter. In the spring and summer when they re raising chicks, they really eat a lot. In fact, we had so many birds visiting the feeder, I was filling it every day. Once word spread throughout the community of Walters birding interest, he says other birders came forward offering to contribute bird seed. The contributions resulted in a bird seed fund supported through the Wind Crest Treasure Chest, a resident-run flea market. The birdseed fund has allowed Walters to purchase another bird feeder, as well as a hummingbird feeder, and suet for feeding during the winter months. A few months ago, a Wind Crest member approached me about a friend of hers who lives in Evergreen, says Walters. They are working to preserve the bluebird population and were nice enough to provide us with three bluebird houses we have scattered around the campus. We re hoping by next spring we ll get some baby bluebirds. The community s lake provides an abundant water source for the birds, but Walters says next spring he may end up purchasing a bird bath just for the fun of it. There is also talk of forming a birding club at Wind Crest. Wind Crest is really an ideal environment for bird watching, says Walters. We have such wonderful natural surroundings that are just beautiful during every season of the year.

How to attract birds

Want to create a bird haven? According to the National Audubon Society, by providing four essential elements you ll attract a number of feathered friends:

Food

Many backyard birds are insect eaters but will supplement their diet with nuts, seeds, fruit, or nectar, depending on the species. Increase the array of foods you offer, and you will increase the diversity of birds you will attract and support.

Water

All birds need water for drinking and for bathing. By providing a clean, fresh source, you will attract more species.

Nesting

Birds will remain in your habitat during the breeding season if they have places to nest and raise young. Different species have different requirements. Some nest in cavities, many others in open nests found on ledges or in a tree crotch, and others nest on the ground. Get to know which species are likely to nest in your area and provide the appropriate habitat or structure.

Shelter

Birds need places where they can hide from predators and inclement weather. Trees, shrubs, meadows, and even rock walls provide such shelter. Source: Audubon.org, Audubon at Home, ' Bird Habitat Necessities

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