The highlight of my work-from-home day is watching the rainbow lorikeets, honeyeaters and occasional kookaburra in my backyard.
It's calming watching them nibble away on our plants and take a dip in our bird bath (although more often they bomb dive our pool).
And attracting native wildlife to your backyard or balcony benefits them too.
I spoke to bird fan and ecologist Tom Hunt from Adelaide for his top tips for bringing all the birds to your yard — no matter where you live.
Why attract native birds?
Where you live and whether it's an urban or regional area will dictate what native birds you can attract.
But Tom says most of us have the potential to see birds like rainbow lorikeets, magpies, honeyeaters and finches.
"Depending on the city you are in, and the amount of bushland around, you have the opportunity to attract a really wide range and variety of bird species. Especially if there is some habitat nearby like a park or green spaces.
"But that's not to say if you live in the most urbanised concrete jungle you still don't have an opportunity. Even if you have a balcony you can create a habitat in pots."
Tom says creating a safe haven for native birds at your home can help them survive.
"When we clear habitat there are species that disappear. Attracting birds to your garden is an opportunity to try and redress some of that imbalance we've created."
Birds can also increase the health of your garden — as well as your mental health.
7 native plants to start with
A successful native garden is one where you've looked at your conditions and found plants to suit, not vice versa. Check out these tips before heading to the nursery.
Five ways to attract native birds
Choosing the right native plants for your garden is one of the best things you can do to attract birds, says Tom.
You want to include a variety to suit different bird types. For example, dense shrubs to provide cover for smaller birds, nectar plants like grevillea (spider flower) for nectar feeding birds like honeyeaters, and eucalyptus (gum trees) for rainbow lorikeets.
"Make sure you include dense plants and have different structure in the garden; that way the more aggressive species won't out-compete the smaller birds," Tom says.
Native grass will also help attract insects for birds who like to forage.
If you're working with a balcony, Tom recommends potted natives that produce nectar.
"Some that might do well are a compact form of candle banksia, kangaroo paws or a hardy grevillea species."
All birds need to drink, especially those like finches and pigeons which have a dry diet, says Tom.
"But in hot weather all species need water, and providing a clean source of water like in a bird bath or trough is a great way to help the birds out."
Make sure it is off the ground so birds feel safe, and have cover nearby so they can make a quick getaway if a predator does appear.
Tom says to add sticks in your water source to make drinking easier for the birds, and allows lizards and bees to crawl out so they won't drown.
You'll need to clean the water each day to prevent the growth of algae and bacteria.
If you have large trees, consider adding a nesting box where birds, possums and reptiles can live.
"We are the only continent other than Antarctica that doesn't have woodpeckers and they create hollows just by drilling into tree trunks," Tom says.
"Our hollows form over long periods of time, [like in] very old gum trees through fungus rotting them out. Yet we have so many species that need hollows — parrots and cockatoos [for example]."
You can buy pre-made boxes or kits from gardening stores, or look up designs online and build your own.
Backyards for beginners
Here's a a handy guide to keeping grass alive, getting started in the garden, and caring for trees and shrubs.
Many of us like to feed wild birds, yet it is discouraged by many bird groups.
Tom and some other bird experts say it's OK as long as it's done the right way.
"We know from research, regardless of what you tell people, they are going to do it. People like to see birds up close — and that's a good thing. It's engaging people in nature," Tom says.
"From a point of view of engaging our society in the natural word, there are worse things you can do than provide food."
Seed will attract birds including finches, pigeons and doves. But Tom says there is also the risk of attracting non-natives like house sparrows — the little brown birds you see in food courts.
Nectar mixes and sugar water will attract honey eaters and lorikeets.
Other birds like currawongs, magpies and kookaburras prefer high-protein food.
Many people put our raw mince which can be dangerous because it can spread bacteria.
Tom says to instead purchase meal worms or native insectivore mixes, which have the perfect mix of macro and micronutrients, fibre and protein.
Fruit will attract wild birds like rosellas, lorikeets and king parrots.
It's a good idea to not put out feed every day, and mix up the times you do it.
"That will prevent huge flocks of predators like magpies coming in," Tom says.
He also says you need to keep the feeding area clean and hygienic to avoid spreading bacteria that can be fatal to wildlife.
Be mindful of pets
Attracting native birds to your garden means you have a responsibility to keep them safe.
"It's on the pet owner to ensure their pets don't harm our wildlife," Tom says.
Pets like dogs and cats can kill birds and other wildlife.
Tom suggests keeping cats indoors or building an outdoor cat run.
With dogs, you may choose to supervise or limit their time in your backyard to give birds a chance to visit.
With hundreds of species easy to spot locally, many backyard birders become frustrated when only a few common backyard birds regularly visit their feeders. Fortunately, it is easy to attract new birds to your backyard by offering what they need most: food, water, shelter, and nesting sites. By adding new features to your yard that address these needs, you’ll soon find a wide range of new and unexpected species nearby.
Adding new food sources is one of the easiest and most effective ways to attract new birds to your backyard. A basic seed mix is a good start for backyard birding, but more specialized foods will attract a wider range of species.
- New seeds: Black oil sunflower seeds are the best for attracting songbirds to your yard, but other types of seed such as safflower, millet, and nyjer will attract different species that aren’t as fond of sunflower seeds. Try adding new seeds to existing mixes or use new seeds alone to see which birds show a preference.
- Suet: If you don’t already offer suet in your backyard, you’re missing out on attracting woodpeckers, nuthatches, and other fat-loving birds. Try different blends or make your own bird suet for the birds you wish to attract.
- Nuts: Jays, magpies, and titmice love peanuts and peanut butter. Offer whole nuts or shelled nuts as part of your backyard buffet to attract these species, or be sure your seed and suet types also include bits of nuts.
- Fruit: Many birds will sample fruit at your feeders, and different types of fruit are favorite choices for feeding orioles. Fruit chunks such as oranges, apples, melons, and grapes are easy to add to platform feeders and will attract many unusual birds.
- Kitchen scraps: Bread, leftover pasta, bacon rinds, rice and other types of kitchen scraps will attract a wide range of birds. Offer scraps in small quantities to avoid attracting unwanted guests such as rodents or raccoons. Keep scraps to rare, limited treats, however, as they are not as nutritious as other popular foods.
- Nectar: If you’ve never tried feeding hummingbirds, putting up a hummingbird feeder can bring a colorful surprise to your yard. Orioles, woodpeckers and other species will also sample from nectar feeders, depending on the size and design.
- Natural foods: Don’t forget to take advantage of nature’s bounty, and add seed-bearing flowers, berry bushes, nectar-rich flowers, and other natural foods to your landscaping. Many birds that may be wary about unknown feeders will happily forage among familiar plants. At the same time, minimize or eliminate insecticide use to be sure insectivorous birds have plenty to eat.
In addition to offering new food sources, you can attract new birds to your backyard if you change how you offer seeds and other food. Add a new type of bird feeder, such as a sock, tube, platform or saucer feeder to give birds more choices for how they eat. Set up new bird feeders in a different area of your yard to reduce competition and aggression with your old feeders, and you may even see more reclusive bird species trying them out.
Not all birds will visit feeders, but they all need water. While a basic birdbath is an easy way to attract birds with water, upgrading your water features or adding new ones will bring new bird species flocking to your yard.
- Moving water: Instead of just a static birdbath, add a dripper, mister or bubbler to create motion. Birds will see and hear the water from great distances, and many curious species will come to investigate. If you have the space and budget, consider a fountain birdbath or even larger water feature such as a waterfall or pond.
- Multiple water sources: A single birdbath can be very crowded, particularly if it is the only water source for a large area. Add additional bird baths to attract more birds, or add different water features such as a mister in a shady grove or a ground bubbler near shrubbery to attract a wider range of birds.
- Winter water: Birds can get their water from snow and ice in the winter, but a liquid water source will attract dozens of birds in the cold. Add a simple heater attachment to your existing birdbath or upgrade to a heated birdbath to attract winter birds with a warm drink.
Birds like to feel protected and secure, and if they are uncertain about the safety of an area they will not visit it regularly. By adding more shelter to your backyard, you entice even the shiest birds to stop by.
- Landscaping: Opt for bird-friendly landscaping that features native plants in tiers or clumps to provide familiar shelter for your regional birds. Add new plants to an unused area of your yard, or increase the density of existing plants for more secure cover. To make the plants do double duty, choose trees and shrubs with seeds and fruits the birds will enjoy as a natural food source.
- Brush pile: Build a brush pile in a secluded section of your yard to offer instant shelter to birds. This is a great way to recycle a Christmas tree or prunings from landscaping projects, and small birds such as sparrows and finches will eagerly flock to a brush pile when they feel threatened.
- Roost boxes: Adding a roost box to your yard will give backyard birds a safe, warm place to settle on cold winter evenings. Many small birds, including bluebirds, chickadees, and wrens will readily use roost boxes.
New Nesting Sites
It is a real treat for backyard birders to observe mating and nesting habits of their favorite backyard species. Offering suitable nesting areas will increase the chances that new birds will find your yard attractive.
- Birdhouses: Add a new birdhouse designed for a specific species to your yard. Check the size of the entrance hole and the other dimensions of the house to be sure it is suitable for the birds you wish to attract.
- Birdhouse safety: If you do have birdhouses up but they go unused year after year, they may not be appealing to your backyard birds. Be sure they are safe birdhouses that are resistant to predators and positioned to be secure from the worst weather.
- Nesting material: Offer nesting material for your birds to take when constructing their nests. Some birds will prefer weed fluff from dead flowers, while others will take advantage of grass clippings that are left on the lawn. You can purchase balls or squares of cotton fluff and lint that hummingbirds and goldfinches prefer, or you can save hair, pet fur and small pieces of string to offer in a suet cage nester.
Once you have upgraded your backyard offerings to attract new birds, the most important step is to be patient and observant. You may already be attracting more bird species than you realize, but they may not stay nearby for long if your yard does not offer what they need. By offering a good range of food, water, shelter, and nesting sites, you can encourage many different birds to visit your yard more frequently and to stay for longer periods, giving you more opportunities to see the variation in your backyard flock.
Tweeting tips to all of you who love our feathered friends.
What bigissue torments you? Did a meteor come crashing through the roof last night? Did Fido swallow your wedding ring? Did you mean to buy Swiss cheese and discover you came home with Muenster? Well fret not! No such disasters need steal your serenity ever again once you embrace a simple practice: Just step outside to your porch or yard, and observe God's friends—the birds.
If this all sounds decidedly not Grumpy, then forgive me. My rapidly senescing brain seeks harmony within a fractured world. So whenever necessary, I repair to the refuge of a screened porch facing our little woods, chirp toward the feeder that dangles from the witch hazel (yes, I really do chirp), and call them to dine. Invariably, the chickadees arrive first, followed shortly by the tufted titmice, cardinals, finches, woodpeckers, wrens, and nuthatches. Seated in my favorite chair with a cocktail in hand, I am at peace.
Don't think Grumpy has become an ornithologist. I don't sleep with Audubon's field guide tucked under my pillow or race through neighbors' yards with birding glasses pressed to my eyeballs, rapturously hollering, "Ruby-crowned kinglet!" No doubt, many of you know more about birds than I. But for those who seek to learn the basics of attracting them to your garden, I'm your guy. Let's begin.
Choose the Right Food for the Birds You Want
Goldfinches, juncos, and pine siskins like thistle seeds (squirrels don't); buntings, towhees, sparrows, mourning doves, and Carolina wrens prefer millet seeds (squirrels don't); and almost all songbirds love black oil sunflower seeds (squirrels do too). A bagful of mixed seeds usually contains all three. As an alternative, I highly recommend Cole's Hot Meats (available from amazon.com). Though expensive, these shelled sunflower seeds, infused with chili pepper, torch the evil mouths of marauding squirrels but don't affect birds in the least. High in protein and fat, they provide a huge draw for adult birds tending hungry chicks—even insect eaters that rarely come to the feeder. One spring day, I encountered five Eastern bluebirds enjoying a big family feast! (If I were able to cry, I would have.) Prime times for avian diners? Morning and late afternoon.
Provide Shelter and Safe Nesting Sites
Birds feel vulnerable on the ground—and rightly so. Predators abound. It's smart to have nearby trees that they can fly to after grabbing a seed. Tall evergreens offer safe, hidden nesting sites well above the ground. Be careful where you put birdbaths. While these creatures need water for drinking and bathing, landing on a basin on the ground could attract the unwanted company of natural predators, so give a tufted titmouse a break. Basins must be on pedestals or suspended from chains with clear visibility. Birds prefer shallow water that's no more than an inch deep. Heated baths are especially welcome where water freezes in winter.
Get a Good Feeder
Some are for small birds, while others are virtually universal. Place yours in the open, mounted on a pole or hung from a branch so it's beyond the reach of cats and other predators. You will also want to make sure it resists those (expletive deleted) squirrels. Some claim to be "squirrel proof," but I'd have to see that to believe it.
Plant a Buffet
Birds love fruits, nuts, and seeds, so grow them in your garden. For fruits, plant beautyberry, pyracantha, Eastern red cedar, viburnum, hawthorn, sumac, palm, crabapple, serviceberry, dogwood, bayberry, persimmon, black gum, holly, and wax myrtle. For nuts and seeds, plant oak, pine, spruce, beech, maple, birch, sunflower, and coneflower.
Keep an Eye Out for the Wanderers
Most of the birds I've mentioned stay in my neighborhood year-round. And Grumpy will confess to committing the woeful sin of taking these feathered ones for granted, on occasion. But then a particularly brilliant cardinal flies in and shows me the error of my ways. Every bird is a real treasure, especially those that migrate seasonally and may show up in my garden only briefly each spring or fall. Sighting one brings such joy. Still dressed in my pajamas, I'll seize my birding glasses, dash to the yard, and proclaim, "Scarlet tanager! Scarlet tanager!"
Grumpy’s Frequent Fliers
Three of the songbirds I especially look forward to watching in my garden
Attracting birds to your garden is good for the garden as well as the birds. Natural habitats that provide birds with food, shelter, and water are disappearing at an alarming rate. When you invite the birds into your garden, you’ll be rewarded with entertaining antics and songs, and the birds will become your partners in the never-ending battle against bugs.
How to Attract Birds in the Garden
Encourage birds to take up residence in your garden by providing them with the three essentials: food, water, and shelter. If you provide any of these essentials, you will occasionally see birds in the garden, but if you want them to take up residence, you must provide all three when attracting birds to your garden.
Trees and shrubs provide hiding places and nesting sites for birds. Birds that normally nest in tree cavities will appreciate nest boxes or bird houses (like those made from gourds) where they can raise a family in relative safety. If the trees and shrubs also have berries or cones, they double as a food source and the site becomes even more appealing. Planting a variety of different types of trees and shrubs attracts many different types of birds in the garden.
Bird baths attract many species of birds and provide you with a never-ending source of entertainment. The bath should be 2 or 3 inches (5-8 cm.) deep with a rough bottom to provide the birds with a secure footing. Garden ponds with shallow edges and fountains also provide a water source for wild birds.
Wild Bird Feeding
An entire industry has developed around feeding backyard birds, and you won’t lack for ideas after visiting a wild bird feeding center. Ask about the local birds and the types of food they eat. You can attract a wide variety of birds by offering a seed mix that contains white millet, black oil sunflower seeds, and thistle. Red millet is often used as filler in inexpensive mixes. It looks good in the mix, but few birds actually eat it.
Suet is rendered beef fat. It is considered a winter food because it turns rancid when temperatures rise above 70 degrees F. (21 C.). You can make your own suet by mixing peanut butter with animal fat or lard. Adding bits of dried fruit, nuts, and seeds to suet makes it attractive to more species of birds.
Birdscaped backyards provide birds with bird feeders and seed-producing plants for food, native plants for hiding and nesting, and water sources for drinking and bathing. Try birdscaping with these 10 tips for attracting more birds!
1. Multiple Feeders Attract More Birds
Providing multiple bird feeder styles and foods attracts more birds to your backyard. Simultaneously offering sunflower, thistle (aka Nyjer®), peanuts, fruit, jelly, suet, and mealworms will attract the greatest variety of bird species to your birdscape. You can also purchase bird feeders and bird seed blends that increase the attractiveness of your backyard for specific species you’re interested in.
2. Birds Feel Safe with Natural Shelter
Adding trees, shrubs, and flowers to your backyard enhances its seamless, natural feel for the birds. Native plant life gives birds protection from predators and nesting space for raising their young. Birds thrive when you enrich their water source with water-side plants, which they use for hiding spots when predators are in the area. Adding a few logs and rocks to your garden complements the flowers, trees, and shrubs, providing the same protections and comfort for birds during winter months.
See also: Lawn Care With Birds in Mind
3. Bird Baths Aren’t Just for Bathing
Birds need year-round sources of fresh water for their drinking and bathing needs. A birdbath doesn’t have to be anything large or elaborate–just a shallow, sloped water source with a rough surface to grip onto, such as terra-cotta, and an ideal water depth of 1 to 3 inches. Feeder birds are used to the elevation of bird feeders, so they enjoy elevated water sources. A ground-level birdbath creates the most nature-like pond for the birds and also attracts bird species that prefer feeding from the ground or low-hanging platform feeders. For colder months, heated bird baths are optional but not necessary. You can also just offer a small dish of water each day, making sure to bring it in when it starts to freeze.
4. Moving Water Gets Birds’ Attention
Birds love gently moving water. A waterfall or dripping feature attracts feeder birds and will also attract birds that may not visit your bird feeders. Bird-oriented ponds differ from decorative ponds because they blend in naturally with the surrounding environment and landscape, letting birds view your pond as an extension of their natural habitat.
As land development has increased, bird populations have decreased. 1 Loss of habitat and natural food sources have caused some birds to become extinct, including a species of sharp-tailed grouse that has been lost forever. 2 As many as 100 other bird species are now considered endangered or threatened. 3 While you can’t stop progress, you can help support wild bird populations by creating an attractive habitat for them in your backyard.
Benefits of Attracting Birds
Beautiful birds, such as cardinals, finches and robins, add color and music to the yard. Bird watching is relaxing, and coffee on the patio seems a little more enjoyable when accompanied by songbirds. While birds are delightful, they have much more to offer than aesthetics:
- Caring for birds by providing food and habitats encourages children to spend time outside and teaches them the importance of nurturing mother nature. When kids participate in caring for wild birds, they develop respect for the environment.
- As birds move between plants, trees and bushes, some types act as pollinators by moving pollen from one flower to another. Pollination is vital to produce fruit and seeds. While this process is often credited to bees, there are many different types of pollinators, including hummingbirds and butterflies and other insects. 5
- Important members of the food chain, birds offer natural pest control. Wild birds help manage pests, such as mosquitoes and Japanese beetles. 4 For insect problems birds can’t handle, trusted products such as Sevin ® garden insecticides can help. Tough on pests, but gentle on gardens, Sevin Insect Killer Ready to Use helps protect bird-friendly landscapes, even when edibles and ornamentals intermix.
How to Attract Birds
Attract a wide variety of birds to your yard by providing them with basic needs: food, water and shelter. Pennington ® Ultra wild bird blends offer high quality seed to attract a variety of beautiful birds to your yard. Some blends, such as Pennington ® Ultra Nut & Fruit, also include special ingredients favored by specific birds, such as chickadees, cardinals and purple finches. Select a blend based on your region and the types of birds you want to attract.
A small bird bath is a low-cost option as a water source for birds. Rinse and refill the bird bath often to encourage birds to return frequently. Make sure your feathered friends have plenty of shelter by planting trees, bushes and decorative grasses — welcoming habitats in which birds can hide, nest and breed. 6
Make Your Own Bird Feeder with Pennington Wild Bird Food
Feeding birds is fun and educational for the whole family. You can make simple bird feeders that provide wild birds with necessary fat and nutrients by using two main ingredients: Pennington ® Wild Bird Food and lard:
- Muffin pan
- Cupcake liners
- 12 feet of natural twine
- 1 cup lard
- 2 cups Pennington ® Wild Bird Food
- Poke a hole in the center of the bottom of 12 cupcake liners.
- Cut 12 pieces of twine into 12-inch lengths.
- Tie a knot at one end of one length of twine, and pull the other end through the hole in the bottom of a cupcake liner until the knot is at the base of the liner. Repeat for all cupcake liners.
- Place one cupcake liner in each section of the muffin tin.
- Melt the lard in a saucepan over low heat until it liquifies.
- Put the melted lard and the Pennington® Wild Bird Food in a mixing bowl, and then stir with a spoon until well combined.
- Spoon about 1/4 cup of the birdseed mixture into each of the prepared cupcake liners. Gently lift the twine so that it sticks out of the top of each cake.
- Refrigerate for at least one hour.
- Once the cakes are solid, remove them from the muffin pan and peel away the cupcake liner.
- Use the string to hang the feeder on low tree branches to feed birds.
- Place only a few cakes outside. Freeze the rest until you’re ready to use them.
As bird populations increase in your backyard, you’ll enjoy learning more about them. Keep a pair of binoculars and a bird identification book handy, so you can watch and read about the new feathered creatures taking up residence in your garden. Whether you have a large farm or a small city yard, creating a bird habitat with food, water and shelter will help protect and nurture bird populations. The GardenTech ® family of brands and the GardenTech blog are here to help you learn and enjoy the world around you.
Always read product labels thoroughly and follow instructions.
Sevin is a registered trademark of Tessenderlo Kerley, Inc.
Pennington is a registered trademark of Pennington Seed, Inc.
GardenTech is a registered trademark of Gulfstream Home and Garden, Inc.
1. B. Yeoman, “What Do Birds Do for Us?,” Audubon, April 2013.
2. R. Marks, “Sharp-Tailed Grouse,” Natural Resources Conservation Service, February 2007.
3. Environmental Conservation Online System, “Summary of Listed Species Listed Populations and Recovery Plans,” U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, August 2017.
4. A. Rivas, “LiveGreen: The Benefits of Birds,” University of Nebraska Medical Center, July 2015.
5. USDA Forest Service, “Bird Pollination,” United States Department of Agriculture.
Bird watching is a naturally fun hobby, allowing the hobbyist to view a variety of beautiful and unique animals. Most gardeners set out feeders to attract songbirds and migrating species to their garden. Birds of prey in the garden are not as common, but they may show up when their food source is so easily available. They can be valuable as control against the rodents that inevitably show up to scavenge dropped seed or patronize your vegetable and fruit plants too.
Attracting birds of prey to gardens requires you to make an attractive habitat for the predators. Discover how to attract birds of prey and protect your yard from rodents and invading pests.
Attracting Birds of Prey to Gardens
The presence of birds of prey in the garden is a mixed blessing. They can make excellent rodent controls but they also tend to eat the little songbirds that enliven the garden. There are a wide variety of predatory birds depending upon where you live. You may even be fortunate enough to spot the nation’s bird, the bald eagle.
The species in your area will be familiar with the local prey and will readily come to any area where their main food source is plentiful. That means if you have a rodent problem, the hunters will come. You can encourage them to stay by providing nesting zones, tree cover and perches, water and by keeping dogs and noisy people out of the area.
Using birds of prey as pest control is not a precise method, but it is definitely organic and natural and will give you a fascinating animal to watch.
Common Garden Birds of Prey
The type of birds available as pest control will vary due to climate and environment:
- Near water you are likely to see osprey and eagles.
- In open pastures and fields you can see kestrels and hawks.
- Thickly wooded regions host owls and sharpies.
- Sparrow hawks are common in many garden settings.
Your local raptors will become regular visitors if there is a complementary environment in your garden. The native birds are not the only ones you can attract. Migratory predatory birds are also irregular visitors to the area and may be coaxed to snack in your yard.
Attracting birds of prey to gardens may be helpful in controlling errant rodent populations, but keep in mind they don’t only eat rats. The birds will also take chipmunks, rabbits and squirrels as well as other rodents. Be prepared for the sight of cuter animals as prey as well as annoying rats and mice. Common garden birds of prey will not differentiate between wild prey and your pet rabbit, so use caution if you have a bunny hutch outside.
How to Attract Birds of Prey
Predatory birds need plentiful live prey, water, and nesting or roosting spaces. The first requirement is satisfied if you have a rodent problem and it is easy to set out water if you are not near a natural water source.
Letting grass grow up or allowing a field to naturalize will provide cover to rodents in open areas. Keep these areas mowed so the raptors can easily spot their prey. In wooded spaces, the trees will provide both hunting cover and roosting spaces for the birds, but those that hunt in open spaces may need a little help.
You can build a combination perch and nesting box so the birds are encouraged to not only hunt near you but breed near you as well. These are usually tall posts with horizontal struts and a wooden box for nesting babies. Keep the area as natural and inviting as possible when using birds of prey as pest control.
Your relationship with birds as a gardener may be a complicated one. They are beautiful to look at and sing enchanting songs, however, they also love to eat fresh produce as soon as it ripens on your tree. Despite their desire to eat half the garden, here at Yard Butler, we are big fans of birds, and that is because they will eat the pests that are known to destroy gardens. In an effort to give birds a safe haven where they can eat and relax, we designed the Yard Tree Bird Center . Here are our top tips to make the most out of your Bird Center, and design the rest of your yard as a paradise for birds.
Feed the Birds
First and foremost, birds are motivated by food. That’s why we added three hooks to the Bird Center to give you plenty of options for feeding our feathered friends. Variety is key, and it’s important to know what kind of birds are common in your area so that you can provide them with the food they like to eat. Websites like The Spruce have an abundance of articles on bird types so it shouldn’t be too difficult to identify the birds in your yard. Species that feed on insects, such as woodpeckers, are partial to the fattiness of suet, while hummingbirds love simple nectar of one part sugar to four parts water. If you’re looking to attract as many birds as possible with one feed, then Black Oil Sunflower Seeds are the way to go. Ideally, you would have all three as well as some nuts and berries to attract the widest array of birds possible. Feeding the birds will not only attract them to your yard but also keep them from snacking on your ripening tomatoes and apricots!
Yard Butler Tip – Don’t buy the cheap pre-mixed birdseed from the local hardware store. These are typically made with low-quality ingredients that can be harmful to the birds.
Put a roof over their heads
Birds will only feel comfortable to come snack on your feed when they feel safe from predators. This is where birdhouses come into play. Once you’ve observed the types of birds in your location, you’ll know their general size and what kinds of birdhouses will suit them best. However, just as with the birdfeed, ideally you would have a couple of options to make any bird that might come by comfortable. Next, install your birdhouse high enough that they can escape any ground predators easily. You can add them to the top hook of your Yard Tree Bird Center, or mount them to a tree.
Some birds, such as goldfinches and orioles, prefer to build their own nests and will likely have no interest in your manmade birdhouse. Because of these species, it is important to have natural nesting areas in your yard. Shrubs and trees are a welcoming home and shelter to many birds, so be careful when you are trimming! The more greenery the better.
Set up a birdbath
Another great feature of our Yard Tree Bird Center is the birdbath. Birds rely on freshwater to drink and clean themselves, and having a safe and consistent spot to do that will make them regulars at your place. If you’re adding a birdbath to your yard, be mindful of what is best for the birds. The big decorative birdbaths sold at garden centers are pretty, but they are often too deep and not suitable for the more common smaller birds. The “perfect” birdbath is shallow with a sloping ledge that allows the birds to slowly make their way into the water. You can also add sticks and rocks for the birds to sit on. If you want to go all out, add a water feature that mimics the sound and effects of a babbling brook or stream. The more you can replicate nature, the more the birds will love it.
Yard Butler Tip – Make sure you clean the water regularly. Dirty standing water can carry diseases and parasites that are harmful to our feathered friends.
Give them building materials
Who doesn’t want a nest of baby birds in their yard? There’s nothing more exciting (and adorable) than seeing their little heads peeking out of the nest chirping at their mom. To encourage birds to build their nests near you, give them the supplies they need to build the perfect nest. Things like string, small sticks, and pet fur are all great examples of prime building materials. You can stuff these into a suet container where the birds can easily pull out what they need without making a huge mess. Other natural debris in your yard like dead flowers and grass clippings are also helpful to the parent birds, so sometimes it’s better not to clean up completely.
In addition to nesting materials, plant native trees and shrubs that the birds feel comfortable hiding their eggs in.
Keep your cats indoors
While letting your cat occasionally roam outside might feel like the more ethical thing to do, the truth is outdoor cats are responsible for the deaths of 2.4 billion birds a year . They’ve also had their hand in the extinction of over sixty-three animal species. This sad statistic means that it’s better for the overall health of the planet to keep domesticated cats indoors. When bird populations die out, it impacts the rest of the local ecosystem on a huge scale. To keep your cats happy inside, provide them with plenty of toys that they may take out their predator instinct on. The birds will thank you by becoming a constant presence in your garden.