Peaceful distraction

hummingbird

 By Fran Warren

cedar waxwing and elderberry

Being able to watch and listen to the birds around my home has proven to be a tremendous distraction from the chaos and challenges of the world around me.

Despite living in an assisted living facility, I insisted that native plants be planted throughout our yard, including elderberries and snowberry. I have planted many native plants on my balcony to attract pollinators. Our backyard habitat has been rewarded! Touchmark in the West Hills has many such plantings on campus with water features as well. All of these contribute to the return of wildlife here.

A shallow bowl of water becomes a splash event for small birds during summer! This house finch visited every day for a delightful cooling drink and bath.
A shallow bowl of water becomes a splash event for small birds during summer! This house finch visited every day for a delightful cooling drink and bath.

A Cedar waxwing flock completely depleted a massive shrub of elderberries in two separate sessions—just two days apart. I think these were two separate flocks that nested at Cedar Mill. Twenty birds would swoop down and load up on the tree, followed by another 20 birds moments later. This happened every 30 minutes for about two days! Seeing these pictures, can you imagine how these birds are enjoying themselves as they fluttered about? The feeling was so wonderful for us and for our neighbors as well!

Last year, Stellar’s Jays and Northern Flickers enjoyed these elderberries. I love watching those birds fly off with the fruit in their mouths.

hummingbird

The snowberry bushes are now full of white berries. I find it interesting that birds don’t like this fruit during the summer or fall but wait until winter when food is scarce. According to an Oregon State University blog, Shrubs for wildlife: Snowberry, “Snowberry is useful to pollinators as a host and food plant. The flowers attract Anna’s and rufous hummingbirds, as well as various insects including bees. Several birds have been observed eating the berries, such as towhees, thrushes, robins, grosbeaks, and waxwings. Birds also use snowberry thickets for cover.” But I caution that these berries can be toxic to children so be watchful of this.

Western Oregon Dispensary
deer under elderberry

The deer are not to be outdone either, lying on our flat ground, facing away from us. Clearly, they feel safe with us and stay vigilant in the other direction. Another gratifying feeling.

I highly recommend adding these native plants to your patio or backyard plantings for many peaceful hours of enjoyment all year long. Sit back with a cup of your favorite beverage and simply enjoy!