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where you can attach a platform feeder right outside the window. You will relish the chance to sneak very close up peeks at your avian buddies. My favored window for platform feeders is the kitchen window over the sink, where dish washing becomes more fun when feathered visitors drop by for a snack of seeds or grapes.

Peanuts are another secret weapon in the art of attracting birds to your garden. Peanuts are high in protein and oils and Woodpeckers, Tufted Titmice, and Florida Scrub Jays will come over to feast on them. Unshelled peanuts can be bought at feed stores at a very reasonable price.

Don't ignore the dazzling Summer Tanagers, Florida Cardinals, Grosbeaks and Orioles that enjoy fruit. Cut an orange in half, pound a nail into a fence, and push the orange onto the nail, skin side down. Somehow the bright color of the orange is a beacon to Florida's Baltimore Orioles, Orchard Orioles, Spot-Breasted Orioles and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, who will greatly relish this treat. If you place grapes and raisins on a platform feeder for these birds they will be joined by Mockingbirds, Catbirds, Eastern Bluebirds and Cedar Waxwings.

For sheer beauty Hummingbirds can not be overlooked. They look like jewels dancing as they visit flowers in search of nectar and the occasional insect. The only hummingbird that breeds in Florida is the Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Other hummingbirds that can be seen in Florida include the Rufous and Black-chinned, Anna's, Calliope's and Buff-bellied Hummingbirds. A direct approach to attracting Hummingbirds is to plant anything that has flowers that look like small tubes. Red and yellow are very magnetic colors for these little wizards of the air. Trumpet vines, fuchsias, honey suckle, flowering sages, jasmine, coral bells, scarlet morning glory, tulip tree, red buckeye, and sweet pepper bush all have flowers that hummingbirds favor.

As a back up provide sugar water from a hummingbird feeder, purchased at any pet or garden supply store. You can buy a food mix or dissolve ¼ cup white sugar in 1 cup boiling water. Do not put the hanging feeder in the sun, where the water can get dangerously hot, and do not make food for the feeder with honey which can cause disease in the birds. Hummingbirds become very territorial and will fight to keep other birds away from their feeders, so if you want to attract a lot of these birds, put up additional feeders.

Florida's gardeners can boost the numbers of avian visitors by selecting plants that give birds food and shelter; each time you visit a plant nursery, keep the birds in mind. One versatile bush is the Wax Myrtle , also called Southern Wax Myrtle, Bayberry or Candleberry. Birds will often nest in this shrub and the berries are prized by White-Eyed Vireos, Myrtle Warblers, Pileated Woodpeckers, Red-Bellied Woodpeckers, Rufous-sided Towhees, Eastern Kingbirds (Bee Birds) and Bobwhites.

Another bird friendly bush is the Elderberry. The Elderberry produces small juicy fruits eagerly sought by virtually all songbirds, from the Indigo Bunting to Woodpeckers, Towhees, Orioles and Kingbirds. Researchers tell us that 120 species relish this fruit as food. Ideally every garden will include one or more Elderberry bush along its borders, with their showy blossoms and fruit. When planted in a group, the mature Elderberry often provides shelter for bird nests.

Sunflowers are a prime bird attraction as well as boosting the beauty of any garden. Use six-packs of seedlings, or plant seeds. If you love bringing the outdoors in to your home with bouquets, you will want to plant extras, since they are stunning cut flowers, while the seeds are very nutritious for birds. Sunflowers come in yellow, brown, orange and red, and seed packets let you get a wide variety of colors, flower sizes, and heights. Birds that prize these seeds include Grosbeaks (black-headed, blue and rose-breasted), Scrub Jays, Sparrows (Harris', house, lark, Lincoln's, white-crowned, song), Florida Cardinals, Mourning Doves, Pine Siskins, Purple Finches, and American Goldfinches. So please go ahead and fill your garden with song! Your garden will gain in beauty and you will be joining a movement which is making space and providing food for songbirds. Their grace and their antics will repay you a thousand times.

Terra Hangen is a freelance writer who lives in Santa Cruz, California.
Her articles appear in magazines like Flower and Garden, History,
The Gaited Horse, PetLife, Vanguard Airlines Zoom and E Environment.
Her most loved Florida destinations are the Everglades and Sanibel Island.