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Meet some American birds and tour the bird-friendly gardens they call home.
Garden Video Review: Garden Birds of America
March 16, 2002 by Evelyn J. Hadden

George H. Harrison, renowned bird expert and author, strolls through a handful of bird gardens that represent different regions of the United States, introducing us to their avian inhabitants and their human designers; the former carry out their daily activities of eating, building nests, and raising young while the latter discuss elements of the gardens with Harrison.

The video begins outside Phoenix, Arizona, where Harrison walks through a lush garden patterned after a desert canyon environment with its designer, studying the saguaro cactus ("nature's hotel") with its plethora of bird residents, watching a road runner gobble up a lizard—a not-uncommon segment in this video, which you may want to keep in mind if you intend to snack as you watch it—then relaxing in the cool courtyard as hummingbirds flit among the red flowers.

Harrison also visits a verdant garden behind a typical-looking suburban home in Northern California. A well-filled mixed border fades into the dry hills above it, whence quails trek daily with their newly hatched chicks to eat the seeds and nuts offered in trays near the back door. In the background, bright-colored orioles sip sugar water and the breathtaking artificial stream cascades down in several miniature waterfalls.

In a southern garden outside Atlanta, Georgia, we're treated to close-ups of mockingbirds and other bird species that reside in the mature tree and shrub habitat. In a woodland further north, we see a mother hummingbird feed her babies in their tiny nest of lichens ("They must learn to excel at sword-swallowing," says Harrison, as the mother slides her long beak down a baby's throat). The video ends with Harrison's own Wisconsin garden, which is part woodland and part patio with containers full of red flowers for yet more hummingbirds.

Colorful birds and drab ones, boisterous and shy ones, common and uncommon garden birds populate the video, and extensive footage is given over to hummingbirds and baby birds. The gardens shown represent a variety of landscapes found in the United States, with perhaps more emphasis on landscapes containing or adjacent to trees. Though only occasionally are particular plants (mainly woody plants that house or feed birds) pointed out, the video gives a fairly extensive introduction to the different bird species one might encounter in a garden, and to the general look of gardens that attract a lot of birds.

I've watched the video twice so far, once alone and once with my garden club. I found it just as entertaining the second time around, since it's so alive with bird activity, and garden club members enjoyed the reprieve from our winter weather.

Garden Birds of America
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For more video footage of hummingbirds, try Michael Godfrey's video Dances With Hummingbirds.
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