Big City, Little Homestead

Living rural in the city is hip and urban – and you can, too.

New project: build a nest box for bluebirds and chickadees!

It’s been on my todo list for a few weeks to build a couple of bird houses with the scrap wood I have leftover from other projects and so finally I did the job JUST IN TIME for spring migration.

In fact, almost too late – except that some species breed more than once. Those birds who are have been sticking around or arriving earlier already have young, and and some just arriving are getting ready to find a nest box. AND that’s what I’m going to provide!

And so can you. Do it this weekend!

I turned this into a new kind of post called a Portfolio post. I decided it was a nice way to do it with a picture gallery, and I could create a series of DIY projects that way. Go check it out. It’s called “Using Old Wood To Build A Birdhouse.

Leave a comment if you do get this project under way / done. I’d love to see the results!

Get your trowels ready! Montréal’s garden giveaway is coming up.

The spring gardening season is upon us with even more speed than it usually assaults us, since winter lingered just a little longer than some people had hoped.

So it comes as small surprise that the Ville and its annual “embellissement” campaign (this translates to “embellishment,” but also “beautification”) is coming to many boroughs just a little late, on the fourth weekend of May, this year (with exceptions).

This annual campaign gives residents of Montreal a panier — a basket — of seedlings for their gardens and balconies: impatiens and begonias, an annual flower such as echinacea, fine herbs like sage, rosemary, and basil, and sometimes mint and tomatoes or cucumbers. Also included is as much compost and wood chips as you want to take.

Pepper plant from the garden giveaway
A mature pepper plant from the garden giveaway
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I found a baby bird in distress. What do I do?

If you’ve been looking up at the tops of the trees, or watching neighbourhood feeders, you’ve noticed the flitting of unfamiliar birds, newly arriving on their spring migration. Or if you’ve been walking around with open ears, you’ve heard the sweet call of the robins and almost-raucous regular trill of the red-winged blackbirds. Spring has arrived and it’s in full swing. And so we must hone our attention on our surroundings (not a hard task!), while for some us, work begins.

The expansion of urban habitat and housing and mirrored buildings means only one thing to birds: imminent danger. There are three things we all need to take responsibility to do for birds, and this message is so old now that NOT doing something about it is delinquent.

(I just found out that free-standing houses cause 50% of bird strike deaths. Big buildings the other 50%. Not 20:80 or something that seems “more reasonable.” Your house and my house is deadly.)

Do what? The Top Three things to do are in an Audubon article (Fall of 2015):

  1. Put decals, tape, strings, or another form of “frit” on your windows – all windows reflecting trees within 5 storeys of the ground! – so that birds can see them and avoid crashing;
  2. Turn off building lights at night, and
  3. SPEAK UP about this to everyone who will listen, but building managers and city councils, especially!

I’ve written about bird crashes and the resources to prevent them before, and it’s also happened to me (this story has a good ending, and it’s instructive on what to do if you have a little window-crasher). One even happened to me last week, though I’m persuaded that the little bird was startled and survived:

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Question: Would you want to countrify your city home?

Folks, you could be anywhere in the world and not have a specific service like mine or local resources to make your urban home have a real, rustic appeal (whether house, townhouse, triplex, or unit in a building) – or so you might imagine.

I just had a new idea and wondered if you would find it useful to have an e-booklet showing you different ideas and approaches to countrifying your city home. Do you want it to appear charming and actually be more rustic, wild, and wildlife-welcoming? If so, please sign up below. I’ll be making a note of whoever supports this idea. If we can generate enough interest, I’ll send you design and content questions along the way. Thanks!

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