The subject of bird watching, or “birding” as avid birdwatchers say, usually suggests traveling to far away places in search of exotic birds.

According to Dallas Audubon Society member, Linda Ford, who has been a bird watcher for 17 years, there are plenty of beautiful and interesting birds to be seen and enjoyed right in residents’ own backyards in Ellis County.

“I didn’t really become interested in birding until the early 1990s after my children left home,” Ford said.

According to information published in a recent Audubon Society release, Texas was the first state to create birding and wildlife viewing trails, an idea that spawned similar projects throughout North America.

“Birds in your area as well as most of North Texas feed on seeds from native grasses, hackberry berries and rough leaf dogwood berries,” Ford said. “I have several American beauty berry shrubs in my backyard. These, along with the salvias greggii (autumn sage), really attract all types of birds.

Listing some of the most common birds to watch in Ellis County and the Central Texas area, Ford said, “The Carolina chickadee, mockingbird, robin and Carolina wren are some of my favorites and very common in our area. And in the fall and winter especially watch for the gold finches.”

According to the National Audubon Society, it is important to provide a wide variety of quality seeds and plenty of fresh water for drinking and bathing to attract birds and keep them coming back. Ample cover should be provided, preferably from native plants that also provide potential nesting sites and a source of natural food.

The society also has information on how to choose and maintain feeders, how to provide anti-squirrel guards, how to choose the best location in the yard and how to select the best seed-types. It also has information on hummingbird nectar feeders.

Ford includes the grackle as an interesting bird to watch in the Central Texas area.

“Those are the black birds you see on shopping center parking lots that will walk right up to you. The female grackle is brownish in color,” she said.

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