Birders have always been known to rise to the challenge of making their backyards a sweet haven for birds. The ability to attract birds to our yard provides enjoyment for us while giving sustenance and safety for our feathered friends. Repurposing fallen leaves and twigs, utilizing lawn clippings and other debris is a great way to create shelter for birds and provide a “greener” garden - one that is as comfortable for the birds as it is lovely for the environment. The following are a few of our favorite ways to attract more birds to our own backyards.
During the winter months, birds often need a little extra help finding food
and water, so why not give them a lifeline? Water is very easy to provide by repurposing
a plastic saucer or even reusing a milk jug and cutting it at the base to
create a 2 inch high plate. Do not go any higher than that. Place it on the
ground with branches and rocks around it so birds can comfortably drink but while
staying dry as they perch. When it’s
cold, birds do not like to get their feathers wet. Of course, avoid allowing
the water to freeze for long periods of time and bring the water container
inside when the temperatures are below freezing. Set warm water out during the day.
Water should be kept available for the birds all year round, but remember to change it every three days or more to keep it fresh and free of debris. Homemade birdbaths can be made from recycled unused pots or old large pottery. You’ll want to scrub the birdbath occasionally with equal parts white vinegar and water.
A birdfeeder is one of
the quickest ways to get more birds in your yard. Feeders come in numerous
shapes and sizes, so depending on
the type of food you serve, you’ll have to decide on the proper feeder.
Some birders even set up several feeders around their yard to be sure all bird
species are taken care of.
Hopper Feeders are some of the most common feeders and are usually made of a wooden roof and platform with glass or plastic siding. But again, choose the feeder that best suits the species in the area, and what you’re hoping to attract to your yard.
That same goes for the food you serve. Mixed birdseed provides a good assortment of small seeds, nuts, fruits, corn kernels, and sunflower seeds, which will cover the basis for most species. Black-oil sunflower seeds are always considered a delicious treat and a favorite. Always be sure you are choosing the most premium birdseed that covers the nutritional needs of varying bird species.
To keep the birds fed in winter months beyond a birdfeeder, plant native trees and bushes in the yard with berries that the birds enjoy. The Audubon Society recommends huckleberry, honeysuckle, and snowberry.
Vegetation and Shelter for Birds
By doing a small amount of landscaping, you can make
your backyard one birds will want to visit and find attractive. Planting
trees and shrubs gives birds wonderful hiding spots and places to nest, and a
hunting area for ground feeders such as Catbirds and Robins. To encourage
breeding, add a nest box or birdhouse.
If you don’t mind, and if it is safe to do so, allow dead trees to be left where they stand. They provide nesting opportunities for many birds and feeding spots for woodpeckers.
Choosing Plants for Your Backyard
When possible, choose native plant species, as the goal is to reclaim natural
habitat. If there are non-native or invasive plants in your backyard it would
be wise to remove those. Having a well-groomed backyard with lots of plants,
trees, and gardens doesn’t just look beautiful, it’s extremely attractive to a
variety of bird species. A coincidence? We don’t think so!
One hazard that greatly effects birds is when they collide with windows. If
you notice birds are constantly hitting your windows, try moving your
houseplants away from the window. You can even purchase window decals that will
deter birds from flying into them.
Creating a year-long safe haven for birds is enjoyable for birdwatchers as birds of all species will take advantage of your beautiful backyard. You’ll certainly have fun watching as the birds come to feed, drink, and perch in a place they can call home!