Supporting Birds In Your Yard and Garden, plus Bareroot Trees and Common Hackberry [audio]

Wildlife biologist Matt Tarr joins Emma and Nate for a conversation about supporting birds around the home. Emma also adds bonus segments on hummingbirds, bare root trees and the episode’s featured plant - common hackberry.

Northern Cardinal

Supporting birds on your property goes well beyond putting up bird feeders, although they can be helpful and enjoyable. In this episode on supporting birds in your yard and garden, Matt Tarr, Emma Erler and Nate Bernitz talk about why birds need our help, how to assess your property and the needs of birds, and how to meet the needs of wild birds through landscaping choices and other strategies.

·         Featured Question: Which landscape plants are best for hummingbirds?

·         Featured Plant: Common hackberry (Celtis occidentalis)

·         Closing Tip: Purchasing Bare Root Trees


 ·         Listener Survey

·         NH Farm, Forest and Garden Expo

·         Webinar: Hydroponics at Home

·         Webinar: Extending the Gardening Season


·         All About Nest Boxes

·         Winter Bird Feeding

·         UNH Extension’s Wildlife Program Website

·         Cornell Lab of Ornithology

·         How to make your yard more bird friendly (Audubon)

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Transcript by 

Speaker  0:01  
The 39th annual New Hampshire Farm, Forest and Garden Expo, New Hampshire's greatest winter fair, will be held on Friday, February 4 from 9am to 7pm, and Saturday, February 5 from 9am to 4pm at the DoubleTree Hotel Downtown Manchester. Just $10 per person, ages 12 and under are free. Tickets are available online now.

Nate Bernitz  0:40  
Welcome to the Granite State Gardening podcast, a production of the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension. Today's episode focuses on gardening and landscaping for birds, featuring an inspiring conversation with UNH Extension state wildlife specialist Matt Tarr. But before we launch into that, I want to thank everybody who took our podcast survey. One person who took that survey was randomly selected to receive a pair of Felco hand pruners, and that person is Lisa from Meredith. Congratulations! I'll email to coordinate getting you those pruners, Lisa. I also want to plug a few programs coming up. First is an annual event we're always thrilled to be a part of called the Farm, Forest and Garden Expo. This year's event will be at the DoubleTree Hotel in downtown Manchester, New Hampshire on February 4th and 5th, and will feature a trade show filled with exhibitors, free educational workshops, demonstrations, farm animals, and a new garden and landscaping club competition and display area. So save those dates: February 4th and 5th, and I hope I'll see you there! I also want to plug a few upcoming webinars we're offering. On January 24, a session on hydroponics at home, and then two webinars we haven't actually announced yet but I want to let you know about. On February 7, we're offering a webinar on season extension for home vegetable gardeners. And on March 7, we'll wrap up our winter webinar series with a session on propagating trees and shrubs in the winter months. Look in the show notes for information on all these programs. Now let's jump into a conversation about gardening for birds with Matt Tarr.

Greetings, Granite State gardeners. I'm Nate Burnitz, Public Engagement Manager for UNH Extension. First, I'm happy to be joined as always by UNH Extension Horticulturist and field specialist Emma Erler, and we're joined today by Matt Tarr, our colleague at UNH Extension.

Matt Tarr  2:45  
Hey guys, it's great to join you today.

Nate Bernitz  2:55  
Let me give you a brief introduction to Matt. He's a professional wildlife biologist in New Hampshire, a licensed forester and works throughout New Hampshire in close partnership with New Hampshire Fish and Game to assist landowners and communities to improve habitat for wildlife. His specialties include: improving forested wildlife habitat through commercial timber harvesting, field management to benefit vertebrate and invertebrate wildlife, shrub land and young forest habitat management, wildlife food plot design and maintenance, wetland wildlife ecology and management along with methods for improving hunting opportunities on private land. Matt and his students are currently studying the factors that influence habitat selection and dispersal of shrubland-dependent songbirds and how non-native shrubs influence habitat quality for declining songbird species. So I hope it's obvious why we have Matt on the podcast today. I'd like to actually start Matt, and really just asking, what is your general philosophy around gardening for wildlife?

Matt Tarr  4:03  
Thanks, Nate. I've actually heard you read that bio a couple times in the past 24 hours, and I think I'm going to make it a little bit more complicated because it's fun listening to you read that.

Nate Bernitz  4:14  
Please, yeah, the more complicated the better.

Matt Tarr  4:16  
I work with Nate and Emma at Cooperative Extension as our statewide wildlife specialist and I get to wear a lot of different hats. I guess my my overall philosophy is to do what we can to to make our land as hospitable and as beneficial to a wide variety of wildlife species. What I think we usually try to do is strike a balance between what people would like to see and what they feel comfortable with having around their properties, especially around their homes. And to try to make their land attractive, meet multiple objectives for them so they can enjoy their land, but also to make that land as beneficial as possible for as many different wildlife species as we can, because there's lots of other wild animals that are enjoying our properties as well.

Nate Bernitz  5:12  
And so we want to talk about birds today. Why exactly do birds need our help? Why is it worth talking for 45 minutes about gardening for birds?

Matt Tarr  5:24  
For me, the biggest reason is that we as humans, we use the landscape, but in our process of building our homes and roads and all of the infrastructure that we need,  to meet our needs as people, we really changed the landscape around and we really, in a lot of situations, we really convert the habitat, in many instances, to pretty inhospitable habitats. And we change it in a way that much of our especially developed landscape isn't really great habitat for wildlife species that used to call that exact same area home. And so I think, as really anybody who has property, even if you just have a small little postage-sized yard, you have the opportunity to make decisions there about what plants you keep or add. And the plants that we have, and how we treat our soils influences the ability to provide cover and food, such as fruits, and insects, that are habitat for wildlife species that are just trying to make their way in the world. Because we have made some pretty drastic changes to our landscape, I feel that we have a bit of a responsibility to do what we can do to make that land that we call home as suitable as possible for different species, including birds.

Nate Bernitz  6:50  
Matt, we know that different birds have different needs and utilize different habitats. Can you parse out whether there are any particular groupings of birds that are doing particularly well, or particularly poorly, and why?

Matt Tarr  7:03  
When we say birds, there's a lot of different species that falls into that very general category. So as a general rule, there's been some some research that's come out in the past couple of years that shows dramatic population declines in a wide range of different forest and grassland and wetland-associated bird species. But within each of those habitat categories, there are certain bird species that are actually increasing in populations. As a general rule, I think what we see is that those bird species that are increasing are what we consider to be generalist species, species that are, are pretty general and what they need for food or what they can use for food, pretty general and what they can use for cover. And what we see, the species that we see experiencing the greatest population declines are those species that we call habitat specialists that require a specific habitat type. So for example, one group of bird species that we really see declining in the Northeast are our grassland-dependent birds. These are birds that require fields that are at least five to 10 acres in size or larger. Meadowlarks, for example, require fields that are over 30 acres in size. And here in New Hampshire, just in the last 10 to 15 years, it's become very difficult to even find meadowlarks, they occur in very, very few spots. And so as a general rule, I think what we see is that it's loss of habitat that's probably the primary factor, driving population changes or increases in wildlife species. Then there's all sorts of other factors that we add on top of that. For example, some birds are resident species, which means that they kind of hang out in the same area all year long. As a general rule, I think those species tend to be a little bit more stable in their populations. Where we see significant declines is in migrant species. So birds that might come here to breed in the spring and summertime, but then they fly all the way down to like the tropics in the winter. And so these birds are experiencing all sorts of things in different areas of the globe in different seasons. So habitat loss here in the Northeast affects their ability to breed. Habitat loss in the tropics affects their ability to survive the winter, and then they have to fly 1500-2000 miles back and forth. So they run into buildings, they strike. It's a tough world, for a little couple-ounces bird  traveling 4000 miles a year to get back and forth to their habitat. So there's all sorts of things that can come into play.

Nate Bernitz  9:56  
Putting up bird feeders is often the first thing that comes to mind to help birds. But given that we try and limit bird feeding to the winter time, does that mean we're not necessarily helping all those migratory bird species? That might be actually where we start to get into today's topic, gardening for birds.

Matt Tarr  10:11  
Yeah, that's a great question. I think when people, generally when they think about helping birds, they think about putting out bird feeders. I don't think that, I feed birds around my yard, I love to watch the birds at the bird feeder. So I don't personally have a problem with that. And but again, as a general rule, the time of the year that the birds are going to perhaps benefit the most from that is going to be in the winter. So of course, if the birds are in the winter, those are birds that either are residents or birds that call New Hampshire south. We usually think of birds as flying south for the winter. But right now I have dark-eyed juncos and white-throated sparrows that are feeding around the ground underneath my feeders, and for those birds, we're south for those birds. They came to us after breeding way up north, so we can put out feeders in the winter. But we can do also all sorts of things in our gardens to benefit birds over any season of the year. There's lots of things that we can do to improve food availability and cover to breeding birds during the spring and the summer. And there's all sorts of things that we can do in our garden to enhance habitat opportunities for birds during the winter, in addition to putting out feeders.

Nate Bernitz  11:30  
Do you both have highlights of maybe a particular bird species that you've been thrilled to see on your property?

Emma E  11:38  
I mean, many for sure. From my perspective, it kind of depends, though.  If we're talking about just the area around the house and the garden on my property. It's a different list of birds than the ones I've seen back in the wooded areas that I'm really excited about. But near my house, actually, there's been a Carolina Wren that has showed up. And he's been hanging around throughout most of the year. That's a bird that I didn't really see a lot of a number of years ago. But I think maybe the the climate's been mild enough that he's sticking around throughout most of the year, which is really fun. Actually, the same goes for Eastern Bluebirds. We didn't used to see them here, really, this time of year. But now, earlier today, I was watching a male and female blue bird flying around in the marsh area, just down from where the gardens are on my property. And that was great. So neither of those are super-rare birds, but I still really enjoy seeing them and having them around.

Nate Bernitz  12:41  
Love that. How about you Matt?

Matt Tarr  12:43  
I have been called a bird nerd. And I guess rightly so. I kind of nerd out about birds. I spent a lot of time looking at birds and studying birds. At the same point, a more exciting thing that I've seen around our very small .3 acre yard here in Gilmington Ironworks was we had eight male cardinals in one of our bushes yesterday. Again, this is a super common species. I would say that any average or above average enthusiast birder probably would just overlook most cardinals because they're so common. But to see, you know, eight, just stunningly bright red birds in a shrub right by the house was just incredible. We had some Carolina Wrens singing just a couple days ago, too. And we tend to have a couple that hang around here all year. But for me, the thing that I often find most interesting is, even though I have a very small yard, I really liked the migration period, because during that time, there's all sorts of birds that show up that may not otherwise be here. And that's where I find it's interesting to see how birds respond to what we do to the landscape. In migration especially, these birds are, they're traveling, and they're burning energy constantly. Many of our birds migrate at night, and during the day they drop into habitats where they can refuel with lots of food very quickly. We get all sorts of Northern Warblers that don't breed in our yard, stopping over during the migration, and I helped a Tennessee Warbler out of our hoop house last year. That's a species that there's no reason why it should be in our yard except during the migration. So it's kind of neat to see that

Emma E  14:39  
Something that always comes up when we're talking about gardening for birds is using native plants. Every article you ever read is going to say you should have native plants in your landscape. I don't disagree with that, but since you have background in this, Matt, I just wanted to ask you what your perspective is on invasive plants that are in the landscape or even just some of the non-natives that might be in a garden situation. Do they have some benefits to birds or, maybe not so much?

Matt Tarr  15:11  
Anybody who knows me knows I can talk all day on that topic. I'll just say right from the beginning, I am a very strong advocate for native plants whenever possible. That said, I'll also say that the research shows pretty strongly that all plants have habitat value. I'll say that, again, all plants have habitat value. That includes some of our most invasive plants. Japanese Knotweed, for example, doesn't tend to be a great one for birds, but at certain times of the year it can be fantastic habitat for pollinators. This is a plant that I've battled time and time again on my property, but there's times of the year where it's the plant that supports all the pollinators. So that's also true with regard to birds for many of these invasive plants. My research has focused on how invasive plants, compared to native plants, are providing habitat for songbirds, particularly birds that breed in shrubby habitats. What we find is that many of the invasive shrubs like autumn olive and multi flora rose, they're actually pretty good habitat. In some cases, they can be fantastic habitat because they grow very large and dense, and they can provide really good nesting habitat for certain birds. They also produce abundant fruits, which again, some birds will prefer and will use those fruits and do just fine with those fruits. Certain plants like multiflora rose also hold on to their fruits into the wintertime, which can further enhance their value, especially in landscapes where there aren't native plants that are providing those fruits during the winter. So it's really important to recognize that yes, all of these plants do have some habitat value, and and even the invasive plants can be really high-quality habitat. From a bird perspective, there's two things that get attention with regard to how invasive plants function as habitat for birds. Probably the one that people are most familiar with is that many invasive plants don't support many caterpillars. The reason for that is because all plants produce chemicals to keep things from eating them. Caterpillars are very sensitive and selective about what plants that they can eat as host plants. Many of these native plants that have been introduced to New Hampshire, into the Northeast, into the United States, they don't have any native relatives. These plants, when they're introduced, they come with chemicals that our insects aren't adapted to deal with. So as a result we see plants like autumn olive and and glossy buckthorn support very, very few caterpillars. Caterpillars just can't eat them, they can't survive on them. As a result, in the breeding season, many of our songbirds rely on caterpillars as a primary food that they feed their young. So if a habitat is dominated by plants like glossy buckthorn and autumn olive, then caterpillar availability is very, very low. That can make it difficult for certain birdsto raise their young in those habitats. Another aspect of invasive plants is, again, they produce fruit. Many folks might have heard that, well, these invasive plants, they produce fruit that is is lower in nutritional quality than the fruit produced from native plants. In general, that's incorrect. All fruits have value. Certain fruits tend to be a little higher in fat than others. And those fruits that are higher in fat are often very valuable, especially to migrating songbirds. There's great research that's been done in Maine and on the Maine coast, that has showed that migrating songbirds really prefer high fat fruits that tend to be produced from native plants, primarily because those birds are adapted to eat insects most of the year. Then during migration, they change their physiology a bit to incorporate fruits into their diet because there aren't a lot of insects available. But in the exact same habitats, there's all sorts of birds that can eat any of those fruits just fine. So when we want to improve habitat for birds, the goal is to try to maintain a diversity of plants that produce a wide variety of fruits, so we can meet the needs of these birds and the needs of those birds within the same habitat.

Nate Bernitz  20:09  
Matt, does that mean that in some situations, you might consider not removing an invasive plant?

Matt Tarr  20:17  
Yes, that's an easy answer to that question. My recommendations, as a wildlife biologist, is that before we remove any plants, we need to take a step back to really get a good handle for how the plants are actually functioning within a landscape. I visit many habitats today throughout New Hampshire, especially in in the sea coast of New Hampshire, and especially in some areas of the Connecticut River Valley,  where the habitats are absolutely dominated by non-native invasive plants. And probably the main reason for that is because of high deer densities. In areas where deer occur in very high densities, they tend to selectively browse the native plants and not browse the invasives. That can create a situation where it's very difficult for many of our native plants to grow. So as a result, over time, these habitats are dominated by non-natives. So if we simply go into a habitat like that and remove all of those non-native plants, we've effectively removed all of the habitat. And just because we remove those non-native plants doesn't mean that the natives will just jump right out of the ground. Before we go in and remove plants that are functioning as habitat by providing cover and food, it's important to realize how are they functioning, if we're going to remove them,  what can we do to immediately replace them with native plants that can function similarly, so we don't reduce habitat quality.

Emma E  21:55  
I think that's kind of been the approach on my own property, Matt. There's oriental bittersweet and glossy buckthorn all up and down the road that I live on. But I've kind of decided that my property or at least my garden area isn't going to have any of these invasives. So those are still right in the vicinity. But I've definitely made efforts here to remove invasives and then immediately replace them with seedling natives that are going to have a few more benefits. Fully realizing through this process that this is going to be a battle, and if I ever stop the invasives probably will come back. Because the nature of having a garden area is that you do have disturbed soils, and you do have a bunch of openings for light. And those are kind of perfect conditions for a lot of invasive plants to come in. I feel like that's the approach I've taken. It's probably more realistic for a lot of gardeners to just have a small space that they're gonna try to carve out to keep the invasives out, but not lose their minds over trying to manage every single invasive plant that's in the entire area.

Matt Tarr  23:12  
In my experience, it's really easy to waste a lot of money in the process of trying to get rid of invasive plants. Because as you say, if as soon as you stop, they often will come right back again and for me that's really landscape dependent. So for me making the decision about how much time and effort do I spend to really try to get rid of these plants? To answer that question I take a big step back and look at the surrounding landscape. If I'm in a landscape that is absolutely dominated by glossy buckthorn, the my ability to permanently eradicate glossy buckthorn from my property is pretty close to zero. Because even if I am successful in getting rid of it for my property, the next bird that flies over drops a seed out of its back end and the process starts over. But that said, anything that we can do to enhance diversity. And for me, at the end of the day, that's really key. I want to try to maintain and enhance diversity. And whenever possible, what I'm trying to do and what I encourage folks to do is at least try to get the native plants dominant. Ideally, our work with songbirds suggests that when the habitat is dominated by at least 50% native plants, that habitat is supporting the full suite of at least a shrubland bird species that we would expect in there. When the dominance is shifted, and more than 55% of the shrub cover is non-natives, that's when we start to see, at least from our research in New Hampshire, a decline in the variety of bird species. So again, try to keep those native plants dominant and try to encourage a variety have different plant species that are producing different fruits during different times of the year.

Nate Bernitz  25:04  
So identifying plants as native, non-native, and what benefits they provide, is clearly a part of this. But what other considerations do you have when getting started?

Matt Tarr  25:16  
When I come onto a property and am trying to help a landowner make some decisions, the first thing I'm looking at is just the general habitat types. Is this just a suburban backyard in the middle of downtown Dover? Or am I on the outskirts of Dover, where the lots are a little bit larger, it's still a little more wild, not quite so urban. How developed is this landscape? Then I'm looking at what are the primary habitat types? Is this area predominantly forested? Is this area predominantly open and field-like or shrubby areas? Or are there a lot of wetlands in there? Because each of those major habitat components have different suites of bird species and different wildlife species that are associated with them. That's kind of the the surrounding backbone that we're working with. And then within any of those habitats, and this is where it comes down from a gardening perspective too, I'm looking at the structure of the habitat because birds respond to the structure or what the habitat looks like. We can think about vegetation as occurring in different layers from the stuff that's on the ground: the ground cover that includes the logs and the leaf litter; then above that is the herbaceous layer, so that would be the grasses and the ferns; the shrub layer, which tends to be those woody plants growing between two to 10 feet tall, so that's the shrubs in the young trees; and there's a mid-story layer, which is the stuff the trees that are between 10 to 15 feet or so tall; and then an overstory layer, which is the taller trees, 30 feet tall or taller. Each one of those layers has a different group of bird species that spends the bulk of their time nesting and foraging in there. If we want to have a landscape that supports the greatest variety of birds, we should be thinking about what can we do to provide all of those layers somewhere on a property? Or what can we do to provide layers on our property that might be missing on our neighbor's property? Most of us don't have properties that allow any individual bird to meet all of their habitat needs. Most wildlife species, birds included, are using a number of properties to nest, to forage, to find mates. If we can manage our property in a manner that provides things that aren't available on other properties: food, cover, different vegetation layers, different vegetation types, trees, shrubs, deciduous trees, coniferous trees, to add that variety within that local landscape and across a variety of properties. That's how we get to being able to support the greatest variety of wildlife and birds that are likely to occur within that yard and in that neighborhood.

Nate Bernitz  28:27  
Emma, there are some real parallels I'm hearing between this concept of layering from a perspective of supporting wildlife and horticultural concepts you might use in garden and landscape design.

Emma E  28:41  
Yeah, that's absolutely true, Nate, And they don't really have to be different. It's just the way that we're thinking about them. Certainly, height comes into play when we're designing landscapes. Typically, most people are putting in a garden or at least having that perennial there, where you have plants that are maybe less than a foot to four feet tall, typically at the back of a garden border. You're going to have some shrubs, and most people end up putting at least one or two shade trees into their landscape. Because if you have a sizable yard, you're probably going to want that throughout the season. It is kind of one in the same and at least from my perspective, when it comes to garden design, I often think the most attractive landscapes are the ones that kind of mimic nature. So that means that things are planted in layers, that plants are put in groupings. So rather than just going to the garden center and buying one of everything, you perhaps buy three or four or five of one particular perennial and plant those all together in your landscape, or you buy two or three at least of the same shrub and put those in. I think that it definitely helps serve pollinators better. I'm assuming it helps serve wildlife better. And it's also going to make your landscape a lot more attractive from an ornamental perspective.

Matt Tarr  30:09  
Yeah, I agree. Anytime that we can use nature as a guide for how we're working with the landscapes around our home, I think that's the best approach if we want to try to attract and provide the greatest benefit to wildlife. And I'll just echo the idea of maybe you want Winterberry Holly in your backyard, to have those bright red fruits in the early winter - those great fruits for birds especially, and small mammals at a time of year when there isn't a whole lot of other fruits available. I actually just have one Winterberry Holly in the back of my yard, and there's lots of fruits there, but a flock of robins moved in and two days later, all the fruits were gone. So it was great for that day. But it was a take-home message of okay, that's not enough. I need to add more in there to be able to really make a difference if I want to provide a food benefit to these species.

Emma E  31:22  
The question I've gotten from many gardeners is which landscape plants are best for hummingbirds? Well, hummingbirds tend to prefer bright red, orange or pink flowers, particularly those that have a tubular shape. So they will forage on nectar from a wide variety of different colored and shaped blooms. A few native plants that are hummingbird favorites include wild columbine, orange jewelweed, cardinal flower, bee balm and trumpet honeysuckle. Most sages, a.k.a salvias, are also hummingbird magnets. Also, maintaining small deciduous trees and shrubs in your yard is important to give hummingbirds places to nest, perch and rest.

Nate Bernitz  32:10  
So from a food perspective, we know that there are some birds that go after nuts, and seeds and fruits, some that even go after nectar. And of course, many birds use a combination of these different food sources. So with that in mind, how do you start to go about assessing what you have and thinking about what you need to add?

Matt Tarr  32:37  
Even if you don't know how to identify plant species, begin with at least being able to identify the different layers. Do I have that overstory tree layer somewhere? Do I have tall shrubs, do I have short shrubs? Do I have plants that flower in the spring and maybe flower in the fall? Those sorts of things can start to get you towards that diversity. But to get really serious about it, I think that the more that you can understand about different plant species, the more effective that you can be and strategic that you can be. Each plant species that's out there has different growing conditions, it likes a certain type of soil and a certain type of sun. Some grow really well in the wet, some are only going to grow in dry conditions. Plants that are growing in the right conditions are going to be the healthiest and they're going to produce foliage that supports a greater variety in abundance of insects, and they're going to have the energy that they need to produce good fruits. The only way that you can really know that is to know the plant species and know what they need. And that can be kind of nuanced. But having that information under your belt can allow you to pack a ton of plants into a very small area by making good decisions like okay, this plant needs the dry spot over there that gets the first sun of the day and stays sunny all day. This Winterberry Holly isn't going to grow very well in that dry spot, it needs to go in this wet, low corner of my property. And it can grow fine under a very tall shrub that doesn't cast shade directly on it. So having some of that background and experience can be very helpful for being strategic about how to locate plants and to really maximize that diversity, especially if you have a very small lot and you're trying to maximize the space that you have available.

Nate Bernitz  34:43  
Emma, a lot of times we talk to folks who are planting backyard fruits for themselves and have a complicated relationship with the birds and other animals that have some of the same tastes. Literally everyone and everything likes blueberries. But there's also plants that we're not even growing for ourselves, but appreciate the features. Winterberry, for example, provides brilliant color that we really like. What are your thoughts on how to plan in advance and with the knowledge that there are going to be some of these conflicts and you want to provide a lot for birds and other animals, but also keep some visual interest and maybe even food for yourself?

Emma E  35:31  
Yeah, that's a good question. And it's a tough thing. I think it's something that a lot of gardeners end up dealing with. Whoever grows blueberries is sure to run into issues with with birds seemingly getting to all their blueberries before they get out there. And this kind of goes back to what the story Matt was talking about with his winterberry holly. If you only have a couple of blueberry bushes on your property, it's gonna be really hard for you to beat the birds to them, or the chipmunks or whatever wildlife you have on your land, if that's all you have, unless you are excluding animals from that planting. So a lot of times with berry bushes, for example, people will put up netting to keep at least birds off of their bushes. But of course, if you really want to support birds on your property, then maybe you're just netting a few of your blueberries. But then you have some that are in another area that you just leave out there first come first serve for those particular plants. I think that's something that gardeners are always going to have to contend with, at least I hope so, that there's going to be wildlife that are really interested in the plants that you have in your garden. And you have to decide how much loss you're willing to tolerate. I think that kind of comes into play with ornamentals too. As when you have a garden that you just have for its beauty, primarily, but you also want it to be supporting pollinators or birds or small mammals, you have to decide or at least make the shift to letting some of these plants have some damage, some missing leaf parts, some missing fruit, maybe even some missing flowers, and just be okay with that. It's when we want everything to be absolutely perfect, that we really come into conflict with wildlife in our gardens. And it's tough, right? I think it's always disappointing if you have a particular plant that you're really excited about, and all of a sudden, half of its foliage is gone. But ultimately, that's a very good thing. I'm always telling people when they see caterpillars, for example. Actually, I just planted some alternate-leaved dogwood on my property this past year, and I never found the insect that did it, but probably about half the foliage disappeared on those plants. It was okay, right, I decided that that was fine. It was a little distressing, and we get calls about that sort of thing at Extension, when clearly some sort of animal or insect is feeding on a plant. But for the most part, if a plant is pretty happy and established, it's going to be totally fine. I think for most of us that garden as long as we're getting enough, we're okay with sharing a little bit. So with the the blueberries for example, I'm fine with sharing some as long as I get some.

Matt Tarr  38:45  
I'll just add there too that I had that exact experience with the blueberries. I put blueberries in this year, and I went ahead and let them just flower and do their thing, which I probably shouldn't have. But anyway, they were full of blueberries and they were full of blueberries one day and then the next day I went out and there was no blueberries there at all. I'm pretty sure it was a robins that got them and I was a little discouraged about that. But then I had to immediately put it into perspective that okay, I'm gardening here - in my yard, I'm gardening primarily for wildlife. And so that's what happened, I provided a great food source and the wildlife responded to that. I think it's very important to put it into perspective. Okay, maybe I didn't get those blueberries off of my shrubs, but guess what I can drive to Hannaford's and get blueberries. I'm not relying on this to survive. These critters that are out and about in our yards, that's their shot, that's where they go for food and without that food they may not survive or they may not be able to produce their young. So the the loss of a few blueberries to me is really no skin off of my back, whereas, it has probably provided a great benefit, I hope to those birds.

Emma E  40:07  
Something I think that's worth talking about too is nesting habitat for birds on our properties. I'm thinking that trees and shrubs or maybe some plants in our property are going to be good nesting habitat for some birds. But having a few bird houses around probably isn't going to help, or is probably going to help too. Any tips you have for home gardeners in terms of creating nesting habitat? And if you are putting up bird houses, thoughts on how to do that in a way that birds are actually going to use them?

Matt Tarr  40:41  
Yeah, sure. So, again, when it comes to nesting, those vegetation layers are really critical. Birds have evolved to use different areas of the habitat, different heights of a habitat especially, to avoid directly competing with one another. We have some birds like Scarlet Tanagers and Red-eyed Vireos that tend to nest pretty high in some of the trees around our home. So if we don't have tall overstory trees, it's unlikely that we'll have those birds nesting. Other birds are tending to nest in the shrub layer. Most common around our homes of birds that would nest in the shrub layer would be Northern Cardinals, and Grey Catbirds, for example. And so again, if your yard is lacking dense shrubs, you're very unlikely to have those birds nesting on your yard. And so layering very much comes into play when we want to provide nesting cover. And again, I stress cover. One shrub out in the middle of a wide open lawn isn't very good nesting cover. Even if a bird did decide to put a nest in there that nest would probably get eaten by predators, because any predator that came along and be like, "oh well, that's something different. Let me go check that out," and yep, here's a nest. So when we want to provide cover in those layers, it's really important to make those layers dense. So rather than than just one tree, a cluster of trees. Rather than than just one dense shrub, a number of dense shrubs that allows a bird to hide and nest deep in that cover, so they can avoid predators and succeed in raising young. We can add bird boxes, absolutely. But it's important to realize that the birds that are nesting in bird boxes are birds that would naturally nest in tree cavities. That Northern Cardinal, if there's no shrubs out there, it's not going to nest in a bird box. It's not evolved to know that oh, I need to climb inside a tree to make a nest or to climb inside a box to make a nest. So birds that are most commonly going to use boxes in more open habitats would be our bluebirds and tree swallows. In more enclosed yards it might be chickadees and titmice. Often house sparrows are very common, and sometimes our woodpeckers will. So a yard that is most likely to provide a benefit by adding boxes is a yard where there isn't natural cavities available. Birds like chickadees, for example, you can nest in trees that are only about as big around as your coffee mug, because they're small birds, and they can fit into holes and very small trees. But if you want pileated woodpeckers, you need to have some pretty big trees, trees are probably about as big around as you are, that have holes in them. We can make some assessments for do we have these natural cavities and cavity trees available? And if not, we might want to add some boxes to benefit certain species. Each bird species has its preference or requirements for how big of a box it needs. How big of an opening to that box does it prefer? And where should that box be located to best benefit that species that you're hoping to benefit? I'll direct people's attention to a publication called Woodworking for Wildlife, which I think is still available. I have some old copies of it in my office. It's just a fantastic book that has detailed plans for how to construct boxes of specific sizes, and good examples or recommendations for where boxes should be located. But most of that information is available online.

Nate Bernitz  44:51  
I know it's really important to think about where you're placing your boxes, how tall you're mounting them, and that it is really species-specific. But Matt, when you're thinking about what species you want to support with bird boxes potentially, should you be selecting species that are already present on your property? Or is there some possibility that perhaps you've never seen a blue bird on your property, but you really want to, so you're going to put up bluebird boxes? And do you need to do anything to manage competition for those birds or predators? I know blue birds have some pretty stiff competition.

Matt Tarr  45:32  
I think we can do both. For example, chickadees are pretty common, they're all over the place, but that's fine. It's great to be able to provide habitat for a common species. Chickadees we might see foraging in our garden. Chickadees are pretty general in what they eat. They eat acorns, they eat beech nuts, they eat seeds that are on the ground, they eat insects, they eat fruit. So it's not uncommon to see chickadees foraging through our fruit-producing trees this time of the year in the winter for fruits or coming into our garden to forage on insects. Those chickadees might be coming from your neighbor's yard, or somewhere nearby and they might have a spot to nest. But that's a species that requires a relatively small box, they're not really territorial. And so adding some boxes in your yard might actually increase the number of chickadees, that you would see in and around your yard because you provide them with a habitat component - a cavity to nest in that might not otherwise be available. Certain birds are often very much limited by the availability of nesting cavities. Blue birds are a great example of that, blue birds and tree swallows. It's not uncommon for me to go into a landscape, or somebody has a big wide open yard, or their yard is adjacent to a big a wide open field. And they aren't seeing any bluebirds in in that situation. Probably the main reason for that is that there aren't any nesting cavities nearby. It's not uncommon in that situation that when we add a nesting box or two, those birds immediately show up. So they're in and around that area, probably kind of scouting it out. But we don't see them frequenting that area, because there isn't that nesting box that kind of serves as the central location of a territory. And so it can be the addition of a box that can pull in birds, like blue birds and tree swallows that we wouldn't otherwise see there. And yes, there is competition. So the blue birds and Tree swallows do compete, they also compete with house sparrows. Again, there are ways to usually pair boxes - put two boxes together - to actually encourage tree swallows and blue birds to nest together, because both are territorial. They'll compete with one another for the same box. But when we put two boxes together... Only one pair of tree swallows is going to tolerate a another tree swallow around, but they're fine if the bluebirds are a neighbor. So there's some strategies that we might be able to use to accommodate a number of different species in a relatively small area.

Nate Bernitz  48:22  
That's a really cool strategy. Corollary to bird boxes are bird feeders, and earlier you touched on the fact that personally you like using bird feeders, you're fine with it. But that kind of hints at the fact that they are somewhat controversial, and that other people in your field may have slightly different takes on the bird feeder topic. We get a lot of questions about bird feeders, and organizations like Audubon get so many questions about bird feeders, everything from what's the best type of feeder to what food should I be using and where should I put it? Maybe we can just talk a little bit about the role of bird feeders and the positive and potential negative consequences that can come from using bird feeders. Can you mitigate any of those potential negative consequences?

Matt Tarr  49:20  
I think the biggest potential negative that we are concerned with, especially up here in New Hampshire, is bears. When we put out food, anything that eats that food is going to come to it. And that's cute when they're a little chickadees and cardinals and nuthatches, but it may not be so cute if it's a big bear that is coming in very close proximity to people's homes. I think as a general rule, what we typically recommend is to only put out bird feeders in the winter time, after bears into hibernation. That's becoming a little bit of a challenge because right now it is around December 7, and it's 45 degrees out at my house, or even maybe a little bit warmer today. There's no reason why bear shouldn't be out. I actually have my feeders out, but I monitor them regularly. I have a little fence around my yard which tends to discourage the bears from coming in. But if a bear were to show up and take one of my feeders down, absolutely, I would pull my feeders in probably for a couple of weeks, until it got a little bit colder. Because we don't want to encourage bears. Some people don't mind seeing bears, but your neighbors might not like seeing bears at all. And what we often say is, a fed bear is a dead bear, which means that eventually that bear is going to go into somebody's property, who doesn't want to bear there, and if that bear is getting used to being fed, they can get into people's houses, and they can cause damage, and ultimately, it doesn't end up well for that bear. So that's the biggest thing I think we tend to be concerned about with feeders. That said, there are times of the year where - Anytime that we put out a concentrated food source, and we have multiple animals coming to that same food source, that's a great opportunity to spread diseases. We do occasionally see situations where big flocks of house finches can contract conjunctivitis at feeders in late winter. There are times and situations where we would want to pull our feeders in. So anytime that we see any sort of birds that are looking sick, or ill or they just don't look, right, that's a great time to just pull those feeders in. Then we aren't creating an opportunity for birds to come in very close proximity to one another and feed out of that same feed source and spread diseases.

Nate Bernitz  51:52  
Is there anything to cleaning your bird feeders? I know that you need to clean bird baths.

Matt Tarr  51:59  
I think it's a great idea. I actually have bird baths that I keep out all year. I have a heated bird bath. I usually try to change the water every few days, or anytime that that I can see bird poop in them. Because if animals are defecating in that water, and the next animal comes to drink it, anything that that first bird has, then those other animals have the potential to contract. So I think it is our responsibility to keep those clean. And the same thing with the feeders. Certain feeders - I think anybody that is feeding hummingbirds knows that it's really important to keep those hummingbird feeders clean because that sweet nectar in the sun has a potential to form mold, or maybe even ferment. And that little hummingbird that comes in doesn't have to ingest too much fermented juice or mold to get really sick. So those feeders need to be cleaned regularly. I find in my tube feeders, every time I feed them, I just keep an eye on them. Anytime I see that it's maybe gotten a little wet and starts to get a little moldy or starts to cake together, I just tap it all out and try to clean it out and to keep them clean.

Emma E  53:18  
You mentioned that water source too, Matt, and that's something we hadn't really touched on yet. You said you keep a bird bath with a heater in it all winter long?

Matt Tarr  53:28  
I do, yeah. I actually started doing that last year. And boy, almost every time I look out - so I have my birdbath out where I can see it right out of my slider in my kitchen, and it's near a couple of my feeders. But it's far enough away from my feeders that the birds aren't perching on the feeders and kicking seed into the water or pooping into the water where they're perching above it. Almost every time I look out there there's birds that are on that feeder and that are drinking. Sometimes I'll see the bird, like on a warm day they might be in it actually using it as a bath. But blue jays and chickadees and even grey squirrels are pretty frequent visitors of that bird bath to use it as a water source during the winter time.

Emma E  54:20  
I'm assuming all year round it's certainly not going to hurt to improve habitat on your property by having some sort of water source available.

Matt Tarr  54:30  
I agree. Our wildlife get water from all sorts of different sources. I don't have a whole lot of open water on my property. So it's been amazing to me that the day that I put out my bird bath, within hours there were birds in it, in the middle of the summertime. And then even in the winter, that first day I put out that water critters found it and they regularly use it. So having that water source available is a great addition to your landscape. And there's all sorts of ways that you can add water. For me, the bird baths were just efficient and cheap, and it was easy to do. But you know more about it than me about designing water features and whatnot. You can make them pretty elaborate and a real showpiece to your landscape if you want to. If you design them correctly, you can make it so the water is bubbling or moving and at least part of it stays unfrozen during the winter time and critters have access to it.

Emma E  55:37  
The ornamental pond that's on my property is always hosting all sorts of amphibians. Some years we've even ended up with tadpoles in it. This is not a natural pond, it's a rubber-lined pond, but it's still supporting a bunch of wildlife and it's really beautiful.

Nate Bernitz  55:53  
Emma, I hope you can chime in here on cutting those seed heads in the fall on perennials.

Emma E  56:00  
I always figured the more you can leave the better. So any plants, from my perspective, that have a seed head on them in the fall or late summer, go ahead and leave those until the spring because many of these plants whether it's sunflowers or asters, or coneflowers; these are potentially providing good foraging habitat for birds or for small mammals. In some cases they can be really beautiful too. I think a lot of times winter weeds are really gorgeous and are a nice part of the landscape. If you are going to do that, leave some things standing, it is okay to cut them back in the spring, though. I think sometimes that's the concern, if I don't cut it now, am I not ever allowed to cut it? It's okay to cut those stalks down in the spring. Sure, if you left them entirely alone, it's possible that maybe a pollinator might be able to use some hollow stocks or something to use for nesting habitat. But you know, it's it's not an all or nothing approach necessarily. And just because you're leaving some seed heads in the fall doesn't mean that you don't clean up your garden at all. There are plenty of plants that most people have in their landscapes that really aren't going to provide much benefit over the winter, let's say, hostas, or day lilies - plants that provide some benefits when they're in in bloom, but once that foliage starts to die back, there's really nothing that it's helping out, outside of maybe creating some shelter. So I'm fine with cleaning up some stuff, leaving some other things, and setting yourself up for at least accepting that there is always going to be some spring cleanup too.

Nate Bernitz  57:50  
People often are in a position where they're not sure what to do with bird nests. Sometimes that might mean nests that are around the house and it doesn't look like they're being occupied. Can I actually take that down? People who are maybe needing to cut down a tree or do some severe pruning, wanting to make sure they're not potentially impacting nests that may or may not be in those trees. And then, well, I won't do that thing where I pile on questions, so let me stop there.

Matt Tarr  58:26  
No, that's good. I like it, I just have to remember what all the questions were. So yeah, great questions about nests. So when we're talking about nests, we're probably talking about what we would call a cup nest. That typical nest that looks like a cup that's woven out of sticks or grasses. Almost all of the birds that are making those cup nests are nesting from the springtime through late summer. Once winter time comes around, those nest really aren't being used, they're certainly not being used for raising young. And while there are some exceptions, like robins, for example, or Phoebe's, might come back to that same nest or rebuild a nest on top of an existing one that's on your deck or over your doorway, most birds as a general rule aren't reusing their nest. So if you're seeing nests in the winter time a songbird nest, it's going to be fine for you to move that nest around or cut that tree down if you if you need to. Where I think we are most likely to run into some conflicts or to cause some potential damages if we're doing a lot of that tree cutting and brush cutting is right in the middle of the nesting season, where it does matter, like when that nest is actually occupied. So if there's eggs in a nest, then that's a time of the of the nesting season that those birds are really sensitive to disturbance. If we are frequenting that area or we disturb that nest, mom may very likely abandon that. If there are nestlings in the nest that we find - most nestlings are only in a nest for about 10 days. Knowing that can be very valuable. If you come to a nest and you find that there's nestlings in it or you find that there's eggs in it; if you can wait to remove that nest until the nestlings fledge, then you can safely go ahead and and remove that nest, if it's something that you need to do, without causing a lot of damage. If it's early enough in the year, after the nests have fledged, mom might create another nest somewhere else for later on in the season. I'll just add too about baby birds. That's a question that I get a lot of. That's probably something I get more questions about - Hey, I found a baby bird. it fell out of the nest.

Nate Bernitz  1:00:52  
That was literally the question I was gonna tack on.

Matt Tarr  1:01:02  
Birds rarely fall out of the nest. When eggs are laid, as a general rule, most eggs get incubated over about a 14-day period, and then the nestlings hatch. And then most of the nestlings are only in the nest (the songbirds that I study in the shrublands)  - within 10 days they're out of the nest. The nest is a really dangerous place, because especially as the young get bigger, they're making more noise, they're more active because they're all hungry and they start and there's more scent there. And so the nest is very dangerous because when a predator comes they can gobble up all of the nestlings within a brood at once. And so birds have evolved to get out of the nest as fast as possible. The young hatch, the parents feed them in the nest for usually not more than about 10 or 12 days in one of those cup nests, and then the nestlings are evolved to leave. So when we're finding nestlings on the ground they're almost always those like 14 day-old birds that have made the decision to leave the nest. And the parents continue to feed those birds, usually for about two weeks or more. If we grab that nestling and bring it somewhere, mom's not going to be able to find it. And so the best thing to do if you find a nestling is to just keep walking. Don't break stride, that was what my ornithology professor Dr. Art Borer said: What do you do when you find a nestling? Don't break stride, just walk by it. But if you have cats or if you have animals that might might grab that nestling, then you might take that burden and move it into an area where it's a little bit denser cover but not so far away that mom can't hear it squawking or making its cheeps. Because she'll find that as long as you don't move it too far. And it doesn't matter, she's not gonna abandon it if you pick it up, because she can't really smell you anyway. But don't take that nestling and move it too too far away. Just let it do its thing because it hasn't fallen out of the nest. It's just waiting for mom to come back to feed it. So one of the things that we can do in our landscaping to benefit those birds is to again keep that ground cover kind of kind of dense. Those birds when they come out, they're like little chicken nuggets. They can't quite fly and they're very easy for predators to get. And if they're on a short grass lawn, something invariably will eat them. And so those young birds really like to go into dense shrubby cover or to dense grass cover, where they can get into that protection until they're big enough to fly.

Nate Bernitz  1:03:58  
Working towards wrapping up here, I want to get back to horticulture a little bit. What are some plants in your minds that don't get enough credit or adulation for the value they provide to birds? Maybe it's anecdotal, or maybe it's research-based, but either way, I'm asking for those who are listening who are really looking for specific plants they can order this winter or look for at their local nursery in the spring that are going to provide a surprising amount of value to birds.

Matt Tarr  1:04:35  
Something different that you that isn't available somewhere else, you know something that adds to the diversity. Again, I think the key for providing benefit to the greatest variety of species is to provide diversity. So what makes sense on my lawn might not make any sense at all on your lawn because you have tons of it. Doing that assessment of getting a sense for what's growing around me. And can I, if I'm going to purchase something, if I have an apple orchard, my immediate neighbor adding an apple tree to my property probably isn't going to do a whole lot to one, benefit wildlife in the neighborhood, or attract species to my yard. The way that I benefit and I attract species is I provide something that they need that they can't get somewhere else. So again, that would be can you provide a fruit during the winter time where it isn't available somewhere else? Or can you provide a host plant for certain caterpillars that isn't available somewhere else? That again, not only benefits those caterpillars and the butterflies, but also provides an area where birds can forage in. I'll turn this over to Emma, because I suspect that she's has some much more concrete ideas than me but  I'll just say that one thing - I think we rush to add and rush to get rid of things with the idea that we have to put things in. And so many of the native plants are the plants that just grow around our landscapes function as ideal habitat. Mature oak trees are comment trees on so many of our landscapes throughout the Northeast and here in New Hampshire. Oaks support more caterpillars than probably any other species in our landscape. And so that's not only important for those caterpillars, but during the spring migration, they are absolutely loaded with songbirds. And so retaining those trees within the landscape can be one of the most important things that we would do over adding anything else that we might think about.

Emma E  1:06:53  
I'll just add that when it comes to gardening, even when we're talking about native plants, I think most gardeners are still looking for something that's a little bit unusual, and not what they're seeing just in the woods around them. I could be totally off base in that. But I think that's often the case for gardeners is that we want something that's ornamental, that's unusual. That's certainly how we've ended up with all sorts of European and Asiatic species, right? Because we want this unusual showpiece in our landscape. But you can do that with native plants. And like Matt said, a lot of times, there's gonna be a native that you can have on your property that is something different. Sometimes that means stretching what native means too. You could be growing something in your landscape that would probably really not be found as far north as where you are - something that might be native in the mid Atlantic, but not native in New Hampshire. And that might provide a little bit more interest for you. Plants for me, that if you have the right growing conditions, that I always like to see included in some capacity, would include spicebush. If you have room for a larger shrub, and you have a nice moist soil and full sun or part shade, it has gorgeous blooms early spring, really good fruits for birds, really nice fall color foliage-wise, and it's gonna support spicebush swallowtails. So I wouldn't want to have that plant around for perennials, too, which we didn't talk about a whole lot. I am always trying to have something like wild Columbine in my landscape, which is awesome for hummingbirds. It's also great for a lot of pollinators. You will find that New Hampshire but only in very select locations. I found that a couple times, but it's certainly not something I'm going to find in the woods near my home. If you need to put in a vine, I always have great luck with trumpet honeysuckle, really in a variety of different settings. I have it in a sandier spot, but if you have a really rich soil, it's going to be great too. Hummingbirds are gonna come in for those tubular-shaped flowers for sure. And those fruits might be attractive to some wildlife later on as well. The majority of honeysuckles are introduced and invasive. Trumpet honeysuckle is a species that you're not going to find in New Hampshire, but this is one of those species that's native to eastern North America. If you're going to take a road trip, let's say down to southern Jersey, you might have a chance of finding this plant. Those are some ones I'd consider. But there are lots of great plant lists out there for birds. I think National Audubon Society has some great lists. So like Matt said, have some things that aren't already represented on your landscape and try to have fruits that are going to be across seasons, blooms that are going to be across seasons and if those plants have some other ornamental characteristics like good fall color or interesting bark, all the better for your landscape.

Nate Bernitz  1:10:15  
Thank you so much, Matt. We really appreciate you joining us today. I really enjoyed it.

Matt Tarr  1:10:20  
Oh my gosh, of course, that was fun.

Speaker  1:10:25  
The 39th annual New Hampshire Farm, Forest and Garden Expo - tickets are available online now. And as a special thank you, all pre purchased tickets will be entered into a special drawing for a family getaway at the Inn at East Hill Farm in Troy, New Hampshire, valued at $1,200. You can find more details on our website, The New Hampshire Farm, Forest and Garden Expo is a 501c3 nonprofit organization and provides education on all aspects of agriculture, forestry and gardening by bringing the state's farming, forestry and gardening communities together to share ideas and views on industry needs while providing a fun and interesting venue for the public to learn about these industries and their impact on life in New Hampshire. Exhibitors, workshop presenters and sponsorship inquiries are welcome. All COVID protocols will be strictly followed and include capacity limits and increased buffer space between exhibitors. The New Hampshire Farm, Forest and Garden Exposition founding sponsors are the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension, the New Hampshire Division of Forests and Lands, and the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food. Additionally, event sponsors include Granite State Dairy Promotion, Leaf Farms, and Farm Credit East. We look forward to seeing you at the 39th annual New Hampshire Farm, Forest and Garden Expo on Friday and Saturday, February 4th and 5th, 2022 at the DoubleTree Hotel, 700 Elm Street, Manchester, New Hampshire. For tickets and more information, visit us on the web at

Nate Bernitz  1:12:28  
Emma, now that Matt's left us, is there a plant you want to feature for today's episode?

Emma E  1:12:33  
A tree worthy of mention this episode is Common Hackberry, Celtis occidentalis. Common Hackberry is a medium-sized deciduous tree that's native to New Hampshire and found throughout most of central and eastern North America. It's a member of the cannabis family and it's highly adaptable, growing in a wide range of soil conditions from wet to dry to even poor soils. It has great potential as a native urban street tree, though it's also suitable as a shade tree for the backyard or for rain gardens. Once established, common hackberry is very drought tolerant, but it will also take temporarily flooded soils. Common hackberry is worthy of mention because it's considered an excellent tree for attracting birds. Over two dozen birds species eat the ripe black fruits, including Cedar Waxwings, yellow-bellied sapsuckers, Eastern Bluebirds, American Robins, red-bellied woodpeckers and wild turkeys. Hackberry is also an important larval host plant for a number of moths and butterflies, like mourning cloaks and question marks. While hackberry isn't the most ornamental tree for the landscape, it's typically reliable. If you have room for a tree that will grow 40 to 60 feet tall and wide. Order a hackberry from your favorite catalog nursery or ask for it at your local garden center. If you're on a budget, you'll likely find that purchasing young bare root trees and shrubs is more cost effective than mature containerized or balled and burlap plants. Bare root woody plants tend to be just a year or two old and maybe just a foot or so in height. However, what they lack in stature is typically made up for in their rapid growth. Young bare root trees tend to have a higher percentage of roots than balled and burlap plants and none of the structural defects of containerized plants like girdling roots, so they put on growth more quickly. The real trick to bare root plants though, is getting them in the ground within a day or two after you receive them and giving them plenty of water during their first growing season. You may find too, that the only way you can find certain native plants is in a bare root form from a catalog nursery.

Nate Bernitz  1:15:02  
As we wrap up today's episode, I want to again thank UNH Extension state wildlife specialist Matt Tarr for coming on the podcast. Emma and I had the opportunity to also do a webinar with Matt a few weeks ago and we always enjoy getting to work with Matt and everybody on our forestry and wildlife team. In the shownotes we'll include links to some select resources from that, as well as for the programs I plugged at the top of the episode. I hope you took away some ideas for how you can upgrade your outdoor space to better support birds. In fact, we'd love to hear what bird species you've been most excited to see in your yard and what you plan to do next to take your landscape to the next level for supporting birds. Let us know at Until next time, incorporate the needs of birds into your spring garden planning and enjoy the sights and sounds of birds at your feeders. We'll talk with you again soon Granite State gardeners.

Granite State Gardening is a production of University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension, an equal opportunity educator and employer. Views expressed on this podcast are not necessarily those of the University's its trustees, or its volunteers. Inclusion or exclusion of commercial products in this podcast does not imply endorsement. The University of New Hampshire, US Department of Agriculture and New Hampshire counties cooperate to provide extension programming in the Granite State. Learn more at

Transcribed by Transcript edited by Rebecca Dube.




Nate Bernitz
Public Engagement Program Manager
Extension Program Mgr
Phone: 603-351-3831
Office: Cooperative Extension, Taylor Hall, Durham, NH 03824

Emma Erler
Landscape and Greenhouse Field Specialist
Instructor Field Specialist
Phone: 603-641-6060
Office: Cooperative Extension, Taylor Hall, Durham, NH 03824

Matthew Tarr
Wildlife State Specialist
Phone: (603) 862-3594
Office: Cooperative Extension, Nesmith Hall Rm 216, Durham, NH 03824