For 20 years we’ve lived in the Sonoran desert area of Arizona, and each Spring and late Summer we welcome plenty of migrating bird visitors to our backyard. We don’t usually feed them, not even all the useless junk you get at pet stores or leftover scraps the dog won’t eat. The bird dinners are already here, and the menus always limitless.
The birds native to this area were here long before humans came, and our feathered friends did pretty well with their diets for millions of years. We do cheat Mother Nature a bit by maintaining plants in our crowded back yard that are the natural food for the birds. However, most of the mature plants in our garden, such as various kinds of cactus … which produce edible flowers and fruit …. grew in naturally.
After wintering in Mexico, every Spring, our hummingbird visitors show up to sample the nectar from our newly-blooming flowers and in Autumn to eat from ripening seed pods. We’re sure some of the little beauties are the same as previous years’ visitors. We can watch them for hours while sitting in the garden. And if we stay real still, we can see the whole show from just two or three feet away.
We have doves and quail that also come back from Winter vacation to nest and breed in our welcoming branches of trees and bushes. Watching them scurrying around assures us that the ant, fly, scorpion and spider population will be adequately controlled. We look forward to seeing and hearing their late-Summer chicks as new generations make their debuts.
We can also observe the food chain at work, and the natural process can be a bit distressing when the various hawks, snakes and lizards catch their dinners from the abundance of bird life in our yard. Almost every year, we see our quail families marching in line in the early springtime with an adult in front, followed by eight or ten little puffballs, with another adult bringing up the rear. By June, the predators have reduced the puffball line down in each family to just two or three.
We don’t get up on soapboxes to preach our method of feeding the backyard bird visitors, but it makes us feel good that, thanks to Mother Nature, we can help furnish them with all the food they need. And come back for more every year.