From the nature-loving bean of Green Bean.
I've been in a hurry this year. We moved into a new yard, ahem, house, (but you can tell what was important to me!) late last summer. In March, I was finally ready to address the yard in earnest. That meant putting in paths to avoid slopping around in the mud, adding raised beds, edging out garden beds and trying to convince my gardener to install irrigation without crushing all of my coddled plants.
I knew from experience that that most important thing to building a back yard food forest is to first attract the bugs. Then the birds. Then you build an ecosystem with them at your base. The bugs and birds help keep pests off of your precious peas and other vegetables.
The most important step in attracting insects - beyond avoiding pesticides - is to sheet mulch it. I slapped down some sheet mulch under the plum tree but I really really needed to get at least one season's worth of gardening in before resorting to the piles of leaves, compost and cardboard for the rest of the yard.
In any event, I put up some birdhouses, a birdfeeder and a birdbath and hoped for the best. My hopes were rewarded when, one day, I noticed a bit of grey fuzz along the hole of one of the birdhouses. I watched and waited until I finally saw two small birds appear and one pop inside.
In the meantime, we had some unexpected but very needed work done on our house. As loud as it was, I assumed that it wouldn't affect the birds. Their birdhouse was at the very back of our long lot, shaded under a tree with my neighbor's gurgling fountain hopefully drowning out the noise.
Two weeks went by and I never saw my little bird family. I peeked inside the birdhouse to discover a nest full of eggs. Another week of waiting and watching and I've given up or they have. Perhaps it was the noise. Maybe one of them was injured or worse. Or maybe . . .
The nest sits up at the top of the hill in a now quiet birdhouse with too quiet eggs, destined to never hatch. Down the fence from it is a blue birdhouse also filled with an empty nest from two years ago (yes I know I should clean it out). Those birds abandoned their nest when a windy day knocked their birdhouse out of the tree.
What luck have you had attracting wildlife in suburbia? Have you watched eggs hatch and baby birds grow up and leave the nest? What is your favorite method for providing shelter? Or have you had a similar sad result as my empty nest?