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How to help birds, butterflies, plants

  • Published Saturday, July 16, 2011, at 12:32 a.m.

* Keep birdbaths filled, and/or run a sprinkler on a gentle spray along the edges of shrubs. "It's one of the best bird magnets," Nick Clausen says, as the birds gather in the cool shade of the bushes.

* Feed the birds fresh, high-protein food: shelled and/or unshelled sunflower seeds, millet and/or safflower seed.

* Plant nectar and host plants where butterflies can feed and lay eggs. For example, black swallowtails use plants in the carrot family (which includes dill and fennel) as hosts for their eggs. So if you're trying to grow dill or carrots but don't want to inconvenience the butterflies, put out a row of fennel for them. If you see caterpillars on the carrots or dill, move them to the fennel.

Milkweed (asclepias) provides both host and nectar plants for butterflies.

* Water plants adequately every few days or as needed but don't drown them.

Sources: naturalist Jim Mason, Nick Clausen of the Backyard Nature Center store, extension agent Bob Neier

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