Sunday, April 13, 2014

An Easy (and cheap) Backyard Habitat Improvement

We saw our first-of-season Black-headed Grosbeak while we were working on the milpa garden yesterday morning. She whistled from her perch in one of our mesquite trees, then flew to the top of a brush pile where we got a good view. She then flew back up into the mesquite tree and disappeared into the foliage.

Black-headed Grosbeaks have previously enjoyed the large seed blocks that we put out for them. The blocks can be pretty messy, so we wanted to find a new location to hang it away from our patios and foot traffic areas.

We decided to put in a snag to hold the suet cage. The installation took less than 30 minutes, and we used materials we already had on hand.

The materials were a 12" piece of ABS pipe (4" diameter), an appropriate snag ~6 feet long from our brush pile, and a rock. We chose a location in the backyard that was easily visible from our windows.

First we used a post hole digger to dig a hole just under a foot deep. We wanted the ABS pipe to stick up about an inch above the ground when everything was done.

Next we placed the ABS pipe in the hole, and gently tapped it into place.
We backfilled the hole all around the pipe, and tamped the soil down firmly.

The snag was trimmed to shape, placed into the pipe and adjusted into position. A rock was used to wedge the snag into place. We put the seed block in a wire suet cage and hung it on the snag.

We have used the ABS pipe in our courtyard, to place a cactus skeleton and some dead ocotillo branches. The cactus is mainly a decorative element, and we put out orange halves on the spiky ocotillo branches.

This is a really simple way to add a decorative or functional snag anywhere in your yard. It is sturdy, but easy to switch out or move to a different location. And the birds will appreciate the additional perches.

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