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updated: 7/12/2013 11:39 AM

Moving Picture: Mt. Prospect man brings birds to yards

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  • Video: Moving Picture: The Birdscaper

  • Birdscaper Tim Joyce hangs seed feeders he filled on an advanced pole system in Darlene Schuff's backyard in Highland Park.

       Birdscaper Tim Joyce hangs seed feeders he filled on an advanced pole system in Darlene Schuff's backyard in Highland Park.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

  • Birdscaper Tim Joyce removes a peanut wreath bird feeder to fill in Darlene Schuff's backyard.

       Birdscaper Tim Joyce removes a peanut wreath bird feeder to fill in Darlene Schuff's backyard.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

  • Tim Joyce and Darlene Schuff spot a hummingbird and orioles in her Highland Park backyard. Joyce has known Schuff for 24 years and has been birdscaping her backyard for 12 years.

       Tim Joyce and Darlene Schuff spot a hummingbird and orioles in her Highland Park backyard. Joyce has known Schuff for 24 years and has been birdscaping her backyard for 12 years.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

  • Tim Joyce reassembles a large screen-style nyjer (thistle seed for American goldfinches) in Darlene Schuff's backyard in Highland Park.

       Tim Joyce reassembles a large screen-style nyjer (thistle seed for American goldfinches) in Darlene Schuff's backyard in Highland Park.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

  • Tim Joyce installed a birdhouse in Ann Flick's backyard in Lincolnshire. Flick has seven birdhouses and 10 feeders. Joyce grew up nearby and has been birdscaping Flick's backyard more than 30 years.

       Tim Joyce installed a birdhouse in Ann Flick's backyard in Lincolnshire. Flick has seven birdhouses and 10 feeders. Joyce grew up nearby and has been birdscaping Flick's backyard more than 30 years.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

  • A male Baltimore oriole, left, and a male orchard oriole eat from orange halves and a dish filled with jelly on a ring feeder set up in Lori Sweeny's backyard in Mundelein.

       A male Baltimore oriole, left, and a male orchard oriole eat from orange halves and a dish filled with jelly on a ring feeder set up in Lori Sweeny's backyard in Mundelein.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

  • A red-bellied woodpecker feeds from a starling stopper log suet feeder minutes after Tim Joyce filled it with peanut butter suet plugs in Lori Sweeny's backyard in Mundelein.

       A red-bellied woodpecker feeds from a starling stopper log suet feeder minutes after Tim Joyce filled it with peanut butter suet plugs in Lori Sweeny's backyard in Mundelein.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

  • Tim Joyce maintains a variety of bird seed, suet and nuts to fill feeders, along with a toolbox for repairing and installing bird houses, feeders and poles as he travels throughout Cook and Lake counties visiting customers.

       Tim Joyce maintains a variety of bird seed, suet and nuts to fill feeders, along with a toolbox for repairing and installing bird houses, feeders and poles as he travels throughout Cook and Lake counties visiting customers.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

  • Tim Joyce talks with Lori Sweeny about recent migrating birds she has spotted in her Mundelein. Sweeny's large backyard is draped with feeders and attracts dozens of varieties of birds.

       Tim Joyce talks with Lori Sweeny about recent migrating birds she has spotted in her Mundelein. Sweeny's large backyard is draped with feeders and attracts dozens of varieties of birds.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

 
 

Tim Joyce of Mount Prospect is a birdscaper, a position he says he created himself to help people attract a variety of migrating and native birds to their backyards.

Joyce's interest in birding began at age 5 after receiving a book on Midwest birds, and he took to birdscaping his own yard in Lincolnshire and neighbors' yards soon after that. Joyce's first birdscape was in Ann Flick's backyard. A neighbor at the time, she has since been a client for 32 years.

Clients who hire Joyce want help feeding birds and not nuisance animals such as squirrels, deer or raccoons. A birdscape starts with assessing the neighborhood along with vegetation on the property.

"The bird activity is driven by the ecosystem in the area," said Joyce, who also can install feeders and birdhouses.

A great start is a yard with deciduous and coniferous trees such as Flick's backyard, where Joyce recently replaced three birdhouses.

"She has a pond with a waterfall which is about the best thing for attracting birds," he said.

Joyce stresses location when installing bird feeders and birdhouses.

During routine visits to clients' homes, Joyce checks feeders, replaces parts as needed and disassembles feeders to clean them.

"It's great to get the birds their nutrition but customers are going through the expense of the bird seed to watch the show," he said.

Joyce fills most feeders with a no-mess blend of seeds without shells. Joyce recommends no-melt peanut butter suet plugs to attract downy woodpeckers, red-bellied woodpeckers, or northern flickers and transitional suet cakes with nuts to attract chickadees and nuthatches -- Joyce's favorite bird. In Illinois you can attract colorful American golden finches to your yard with thistle seed dispatched through a special feeder.

"Sunflower seeds bring in the widest variety of birds," Joyce said.

Joyce birdscapes year-round but early spring and fall are his busiest times of year with new customers wanting to attract migrating birds.

Having water available throughout the year is an important component to attracting a wide variety of birds to a backyard, even birds that only eat insects such as warblers, Joyce says.

"Birds bring me an incredible amount of joy," he said. "If I can coach someone into bringing the right birds to their yard and they get that same joy, I've accomplished my mission."

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