Attracting Backyard Birds

Featured Article, Gardening, Home & Family
on August 27, 2014

To make your flower garden and back yard appealing to birds, offer two important features: a good habitat and a variety of feeders.

Creating a good habitat requires food, water, cover and a place for birds to build nests and raise their young. Even if birds have access to birdseed year-round, most obtain the majority of their food from wild sources. Planting a diversity of perennials, shrubs and trees attracts the widest variety of bird species. Native plants are always a good choice, as local birds find these plants familiar and naturally appealing.

All birds need year-round access to water for drinking and preening their feathers. A water garden, pond or birdbath can be an attractive garden feature as well as an important part of your bird habitat.

Provide cover to ensure that birds have a place to hide from predators. A yard with good cover will have twiggy shrubs, dense evergreens, a tall tree to perch on and possibly a stand of ornamental grasses. Hedges, whether deciduous or evergreen, usually provide excellent bird cover.

It’s important to remember that the ideal nesting conditions for one bird species can be unacceptable to another. Some nesting birds require a cavity in a dead tree, while others prefer an open vista. Still others want to build their nest inside a small, dense shrub. Again, offering different sizes and shapes makes your yard a welcoming place.

Birds can be as picky about where they eat. Some birds, such as chickadees, will eat from almost any type of feeder, while others have distinct preferences for a specific kind of perch, feeding port, roof or feeder height. For example, some birds refuse to eat from a feeder unless it’s at least 3 feet from another feeder. Others will only eat from feeders that are a few inches off the ground.

To cover your bases, put several types of feeders in your yard. These might include a perch feeder for chickadees and nuthatches, a clinging feeder for finches and titmice, a hopper feeder for jays and sparrows, and a platform feeder for cardinals and juncos. Ultimately, the more choices you offer, the more kinds of birds you will attract.

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