When a family of cedar waxwings took up residence in one of our balsam firs this summer, I was glad we do not use synthetic pesticides in our landscape or on our Christmas trees. The fir tree provided cover from rain, sun and predators, an environment free of toxic chemicals, and access to numerous nearby fruits and flying insects that fed the birds.

The waxwings would sometimes land in our high bush blueberries during my daily harvest, that peaceful hour or so after supper and before dusk, and nibble a few berries while perched just a few feet away from me. The waxwings (and a resident catbird) never ate too many blueberries; with six productive bushes (and a dozen more coming), there’s plenty of fruit for everyone.

That catbird lived in our raspberry thicket — another area with dense, protective vegetation, plenty of fruit and no toxic chemical residues. The bird did eat some raspberries, but not as many as the Japanese beetles and snails did, and even with those critters taking their share, we had more than enough for fresh eating and freezing.

Among the other bird-feeding plants in our landscape are bayberries, Cornelian cherry dogwood, various native viburnums, junipers (eastern red cedar — a favorite of cedar waxwings), winterberry, wild cherry and more. A row of Mammoth Gray sunflowers is in full bloom now, with promises of abundant seed. Is that what the cardinal was spying when it sat atop the hemlock hedge?

We also have some invasives that the birds seem to have brought in themselves, notably glossy buckthorn, which keeps popping up. Walking through the landscape with long-handled loppers and bending over to prune out this invasive before it goes to seed is good exercise.

Birds also sit in trees and drop seeds of poison ivy, which later germinate at the base of those trees. I set small, scrap pieces of sheetrock (the kind that is not impregnated with a fungicide) left over from construction projects on top of these poison ivy plants before the plants spread too far. A mulch of cardboard covered with wood chips or bark mulch would also work.

A few of our fruit and landscape trees have fall web worms in them now. More bird food! A few birds and parasitic wasps, as well as predatory stink bugs, can feed on these caterpillars. Poking the webs with a stick and depositing much of the web and many of the caterpillars on the ground exposes them even more to predators. That’s much safer and more satisfying than applying pesticides.

In addition to providing a landscape that’s free of toxic synthetic chemicals and that flourishes with bird food and cover, gardeners can attract birds by providing a source of water — a small pond, fountain or birdbath, for instance. Many birds, including cedar waxwings, are attracted to the sound of running water, so you might want to sink a shallow container, such as an upside-down trash can lid, in the garden and let a hose drip into it slowly — someplace where you want the overflow to water the garden. Put some rocks in the lid to provide footing for landing birds.

Food, water, shelter and an environment free of synthetic toxic chemicals. It’s all for the birds!