Discover how to attract birds to your yard in three easy steps that will create a rich and diverse bird habitat and that will keep them coming year after year.
For many people there’s a satisfaction knowing that you are helping the environment and adding a bit of beauty to the world when you attract birds to your yard. And, no wonder, birds are a great asset to have for a variety of reasons, including the most important one–they are beautiful to listen to and view.
So the idea of creating a bird garden is a definite plus. Not only will you be giving Nature’s aviaries a safe haven to return to again and again, but you will also be helping important insects, too, like bees, butterflies and even dragonflies, to name a few.
So how do you attract birds to your yard?
The answer is very simple. You need to supply your feathered friends with the basics: food, water and shelter. If you do, then you’ll find that the habitat you provide will entice your favorite fliers year after year.
Here’s a breakdown of the basics:
Before you begin attracting birds to your backyard, you need to think about what type of food is best for the flyers in your area.
Birds by their very nature are adaptable to a variety of environments but even so, one thing they all must have is a constant supply of food to sustain their daily activities.
There are two types of food sources: natural and man-made. The natural food sources are just that: nature’s best.
Here just a few of the natural food sources for birds:
• flowers (perennials and annuals)
• seeds and nuts
• trees (fruit and nut-bearing, as well as rotting trees-think termites)
• shrubs (fruit bearing like viburnums and dogwood)
• vines (like grape)
• insects, spiders and worms
• rotting sticks and logs (various insects found here)
• berries (like raspberries)
Gardening Tip: If you are curious as to what to plant in your garden to attract birds? Here’s a handy article that offers great planting tips for year-round bird feeding: Best Plants to Bring Birds to Your Garden
You might think that all you have to do is just throw birdseed on the ground and that’s that. Not so. If you throw seed on the ground, you risk the seeds germinating and taking over your yard. So that’s where bird feeders come in handy.
Bird feeders not only help by being a designated food station, but they also keep unwanted pests away from your favorite flyers.
So, when you decide that it’s time to choose a bird feeder for your yard, make sure that it is easy to fill and clean. In addition, it shouldn’t have any sharp edges, and should be able to keep its contents dry from inclement weather, otherwise the bird food will mold.
Man-made bird food, however, can be anything from pre-packaged bird seed and suet, to bottled hummingbird food.
That being said, there are a lot of different types feeders on the market and each has its own pros and cons, so you’ll want to check with your local local garden center or nature shop like Wild Birds Unlimited for support.
Here are some of the more popular bird feeders available:
Panorama Feeders are great for seed eaters but are not 100% squirrel proof.
Tube Feeders come in a variety of sizes but work well with finches, titmice, chickadees, sparrows and grosbeaks.
Hopper Feeders are great for finches, blue jays, cardinals, buntings, grosbeaks, sparrows and titmice (and squirrels).
You’ll find suet feeders work best for woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees, finches, blue jays and starlings.
Nectar feeders are great for attracting hummingbirds. Just be sure to purchase one with an easy-to-clean bottle/container that holds the sugar liquid for the birds to feed upon.
Birding Note: Unclean units can harbor bacteria that might make the birds ill–or worse–kill them.
Tray or Platform Feeders
Tray or Platform feeders are best for pigeons, starlings, house sparrows and grosbeaks.
Regardless of your choice of bird feeder, always purchase the best bird food for your feathered friends to help them maintain good health.
Just like humans, birds need water to survive. So if you want to know how to attract birds to your yard, add a water feature and they will come.
Bird baths, just like bird feeders, come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
Consider these helpful tips prior to purchasing a bird bath:
You’ll want to place bird baths in an open garden setting. This allows birds to flit from plant to bird bath and back should predators come in the area.
If you live in northern regions a heated bird bath is important to provide water in order to keep the birds coming throughout the year. Birds can’t break through the ice and get to available water, so a solar-powered heater is the way to go, especially if you don’t have access to electricity source near your bird bath.
Bird baths should be shallow, rough-bottomed and non-glazed. This goes for all birdbaths. Birds are more likely to slip in a smooth-bottomed bowl. On the other hand, a rough-textured bottom allows the birds a firm stance when splashing. Hint: If you do have a smooth-bottomed bowl, place a bit of clean sand or even small stones on the bottom of the bowl to help them keep a firm footing.
The water should be dripping. Rippling water allows the water to circulate and keeps insects like mosquitoes from laying their eggs. Look for a solar unit that offers a variety of bubbling options.
Here are three types of bird baths:
Ground Level Bird Bath Bowl – This version is placed directly on the ground or perched on a rock or brick.
Water Globe Bird Bath – This type of bird bath hangs and offers aviaries individual “pools” to bathe.
Pedestal Bird Bath – This is the most recognizable and comes in many heights and construction from metal, plaster, concrete, to plastic.
Birding Tip: Be sure to change out the water in your bird bath regularly to avoid bacteria and algae growth.
3. Safe Habitat
A safe natural habitat for birds includes plants, trees, and shrubs. Man-made structures, on the other hand, offer birds secure nesting sites like birdhouses.
For the most part, it’s relatively easy to provide a natural habitat for birds. You can create areas for them to perch and hide with the help of cut brush or even a discarded Christmas tree.
These types of wooded options are great especially if you have a large yard or garden area.
But if you don’t have the space or don’t want to have brush and twigs lying around, then your other option is to provide a suitable birdhouse.
Birdhouses are great for nesting and resting. When you want to attract birds to your yard, think about the kinds of birds you want to attract. For example, chickadees, bluebirds and wrens are just a few of the most common birds which will frequent a birdhouse.
Confused as to what to type of birdhouse to buy? The truth is, you’ll find so many different options for birdhouses–from the most simple and stark, to the lavish and ornamental.
But don’t be fooled. A beautiful birdhouse is wonderful only if it is functional.
Important must-have’s for your birdhouse:
• holes for ventilation and drainage
• solid construction
• correct pitched roof to keep out snow and rain
• (optional) a baffle or other deterrent to keep out snakes, raccoons and squirrels.
Also, make sure that your birdhouse is constructed only of untreated wood or plastic, not “green” or pre-treated wood, because these wood products contain chemicals hazardous to aviaries and their young.
Here are some samples of possible birdhouses:
Bluebird House – This version is constructed of wood and is made specifically for one type of species: the bluebird.
Open View Build-Your-Own Birdhouse – This type of birdhouse allows you to view the contents–chicks and all!
Purple Martin Birdhouse – For a more “stacked” house, this purple martin birdhouse is usually hung or staked in the ground at a higher level to keep the squirrels and other predators away.
Remember: Where you place your birdhouse is just as important as it’s building materials. You certainly don’t want to entice any unwanted guests that will attack your birds.
Did you know? Birdhouses do not need a perch. In fact, it’s best to remove this to discourage predators from attacking its inhabitants.
Still want to know more? Enlist the help of your local nature centers and birding clubs who’ll provide you with a plethora of bird information and birdwatching opportunities, not to mention bird experts who’ll be happy to answer all questions about hosting a bird-friendly garden.
To learn more how to attract birds to your garden, be sure to check out these handy articles from Wisconsin Homemaker’s Gardening Section.