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HOW TO MAKE IT HOME, TWEET HOME GIVE IN TO THAT NESTING URGE.

Byline: JUDY O'ROURKE

Staff Writer

SANTA CLARITA -- Local bird enthusiasts say there are many ways to attract birds to backyards and patios.

Teresa Savaikie, whose suburban Saugus yard attracts a vigorous choir of songbirds, suggests cultivating native plants and installing a pond or bird bath.

"This year I've had five hummingbird nests in my yard because I've planted flowering shrubs, trees, perennials and annuals," she said. "Today I had baby Nuttall's woodpeckers -- they looked like they were stuck to the tree with Velcro they blended in so perfectly."

Plants such as native salvia, native golden currants, penstemon, ceanothus, California fuchsia and Oregon grapes are magnets for hummingbirds, she says.

Butterflies converge on native milkweed, and the dried flowerheads are kismet for hungry finches and sparrows.

Sycamore, oak, willow, elderberry and Toyon berry trees provide a landing pad for many types of native birds. And the feathered friends adore California native roses.

Some worry ponds will attract mosquitoes harboring West Nile virus, but Savaikie says stocking the bird-friendly water spots with mosquito fish helps prevent that.

For years birds have helped Savaikie -- who will soon serve on the Audubon Society's board -- landscape her yard.

"They plant fermented seeds in their droppings," she said. "Birds like jays will bury nuts. And, it's free pest control because birds eat the insects."

Those whose well-established gardens are laden with ornamentals and non-natives need not fret.

"You don't need to take everything out and replace it with natives. When a plant dies try to replace it with a native plant that's beneficial to wildlife," she says.

Across town and just west of Val Verde, Barbara Wampole's garden nestles in wilderness acreage that attracts varieties of owls, migratory birds, foxes, deer, coyotes and bobcats.

Wampole supplements what would ordinarily be a feast of native plants with bird feeders; the winter's freeze combined with the drought this year has reduced plant growth.

Finches munch on a feeder filled with thistles, woodpeckers and grosbeaks enjoy the compacted seed block, hummingbirds and orioles flock to the nectar feeder.

"There aren't enough perches on the thistle feeder for the gold finches today!" she said Friday.

Instead of yanking the carcass of a long-dead plum tree, Wampole allows it to remain as a habitat for woodpeckers, Phenopepla, flycatchers and others. The birds perch on scraggly branches as they await the arrival of their next meal -- which they catch on the wing.

"My husband and I like to watch birds perching on it day or night," she said. "At nighttime we see barn owls and screech owls."

Thirsty birds crowd Wampole's bird bath and hungry ones devour the feeders' nectar. Wampole says it's simple to hang a couple of seed feeders, and a planter saucer filled with water next to the faucet provides a drink and bath for winged visitors.

For those who'd like more information on making their yards more bird friendly, e-mail Wampole at ark@wampole.com or go to nwf.org, the Web site of the National Wildlife Federation.

Those yearning to know more about native plants may wish to visit the Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flowers and Native Plants Inc. in Sun Valley, just minutes south of the Santa Clarita Valley. Amid 22 acres of landscaped grounds is a nonprofit nursery, demonstration gardens, a wildflower nature trail and picnic area. The foundation can be reached at www.theodorepayne.org or (818) 768-1802.

judy.orourke@dailynews.com

(661) 257-5255

CAPTION(S):

2 photos

Photo:

(1 -- color) Barbara Wampole loads suet and seed into one of the bird feeders at her home near Val Verde. She supplements what would ordinarily be a feast of native plants in her yard with bird feeders.

(2) For those who'd like more information on making their yards more bird-friendly, e-mail Barbara Wampole at ark@wampole.com or go to nwf.org, the Web site of the National Wildlife Federation.

Even Yee/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jun 24, 2007
Words:650
Previous Article:VALLEY'S BIRDS FACE MAN-MADE THREAT.
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