Nov 23, 2015 | Featured Web Article

The Value of Brush Piles

BWD editor Bill Thompson, III, and his son Liam construct a brush pile in the backyard of their house in Marietta, OH.
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If the weather gets harsh in your part of the continent, you can give birds shelter, a safe place to eat, and a place to hide from predators with a backyard brush pile. Simply pile up sticks, fallen branches, and even your holiday tree when you're done with it, to form a brushy tangle. Add raked-up leaves or bunches of grass/weeds/cornstalks to the windward side for additional protection from the wind and precipitation. By leaving an open space on the ground in the center of your brush pile, you create a protected feeding area of ground-foraging birds such as towhees, juncos, sparrows, wrens, and others who are less likely to visit a hanging feeder. This is an ideal place to scatter mixed seed, cracked corn, and sunflower hearts. When a sharp-shinned or Cooper’s hawk makes a pass through your yard, the brush pile offers readily accessible cover for the songbirds at your feeders. This bit safe-harbor habitat will also make your feeders more appealing to woodland birds, especially if your feeding station is located in the open. The brush pile becomes an island of safety, which the birds will take advantage of going to and from your feeders.

About Bill Thompson, III

Bill Thompson, III, was the team captain for Watching Backyard Birds from its inception 23 years ago through his death on March 25, 2019. So much of what he wrote is timeless and remains informative, helpful, and inspiring.

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  • Love listeningto both songs and calls from birds in our woody neighborhood. The two types of birds I immediately recognize are the cardinals and the chickadees. Yesterday afternoon too, I heard a woodpecker. Then it’s time to check the birdfeeders and the birdbath. Then In no time at all the cardinals and chickadees arrive, as if they had been watching me. As it gets busier around the feeders, I also hear thé screeching of the blue jays. I even saw a couple of robins checking out our lawn....spring has arrived as the last pat gesofisticeerde snow and ice melt away.
    by louisabt, Sun, 08 Mar 2020
  • I am wondering about existing nests for Phoebes. I have two outdoor aisle entries to my barn and there are old Phoebe nests up. They ignore them each year and build new nests adjacent to the old, but space is running out. Should I knock down the old nests so they can rebuild?
    by [email protected], Sun, 02 Feb 2020
  • Just wondering, should we put anything in the bottom of the box...twigs, clippings, leaves....anything at all?
    by Hebb, Tue, 28 Jan 2020
  • New to birding...newbie question. We spotted what we thought was a Sapsucker at our patio feeders in December. The folks at our birding supply store told us that Sapsuckers are only here in Summer months and what we saw was a Flicker. I thought I new what a Flicker was and this did not look like a Flicker. It was thinner and more smooth looking but did have the Woodpecker Bill.
    by Edmund Steinman, Wed, 08 Jan 2020
  • We just signed up and get your magazine via email. Will we be receiving a printed copy?Ed [email protected]
    by Edmund Steinman, Wed, 08 Jan 2020