Welcome these beautiful pest eliminators into your garden by providing food, shelter, and water. Attracting birds to your garden can be fun & educational.
There are a set of barn swallows that like to perch on the chimney cap of our house every evening. Their sweet sounds drift down and entertain us, and it’s become a nightly ritual to take a minute and listen to the swallows.
The other good thing about swallows? They feed on bugs while they fly around above my backyard. Let me tell you, there are a lot of bugs in Texas, and as far as I’m concerned, those swallows are most welcome in my yard.
Birds can play a vital role in your garden’s ecosystem, and they act as pest controllers of everything from snails to aphids. Other reasons to attract them include:
Flower pollination –
Hummingbirds are great examples of how birds can also help pollinate your garden. Birds and other species pollinate the flowers in your garden by spreading their nectars, causing the flowers to bloom bigger and brighter.
Weed control –
Sparrows, finches, and other birds eat weed seeds, eliminating the unwanted plants without hours of backbreaking work for you.
Hours of fun and education –
Observing backyard birds is a unique opportunity to study local wildlife, and attracting birds all year round gives backyard birders the chance to see seasonal plumage changes, migration, courtship behavior and nesting.
Stress relief –
Watching birds, interacting with them, listening to their songs and taking the time to work outdoors improving their habitat can help relieve stress and promote well-being
See the post 9 Reasons to have birds in the garden for more ideas.
It will take more than adding a few bird feeders and filling a birdbath to attract birds to your yard. A bird-friendly landscape should fulfill all of a wild bird’s basic needs, including:
- nesting sites
With these keys to the right habitat, your backyard can attract a wide range of popular birds. Landscape with native plants and layered vegetation, that way various birds can use different areas of the available habitat.
If you would like to introduce young people to nature, attracting birds to your yard can be the first step, and it’s something the whole family can share. Nearly 80 percent of wildlife habitat in the United States is private land, and several million acres are converted to residential use each year. Having a bird-friendly yard has never been more critical.
Follow these tips from Melissa Mayntz, Birding/Wild Birds Expert – When you are planning a bird-friendly landscape
- Choose natural and organic fertilizers that will not harm birds, or remove feeders for a day or two after using chemicals.
- Minimize pesticide use and let the bugs be a rich bird food source instead.
- Add water features, birdhouses, dust baths or feeding stations for even more bird attractors.
- Get your soil evaluated to be sure the plants you select will thrive, also choose plants suitable for the amount of sun available in your yard.
- If you are hiring a landscaper, let them know you wish to attract birds and work closely with them to design a suitable bird habitat
How do you know what the locals like to eat? Most grocery stores will have a bird mix specific to your area. Keep it simple and start with a mix that includes sunflower seeds, canary seed, hemp and husk-free oats. A small bag will run you around $5.
Invest in an excellent book to help identify the birds in your area. Local bird guides will provide information about the recommended food for each species.
Don’t forget to sterilize feeders regularly, perhaps even weekly during peak season. Taking time to remove the moldy seed from feeders will reduce the risk of spreading diseases. Clean them more frequently when there are lots of birds in your garden and when you suspect that some are sick. A build-up of bacteria from old food can kill birds.
A Word About Feeders
There are several types of feeders to choose. You can hang feeders from hooks or tree branches. You can attach them to poles. I’ve even tried a feeder on my window. (this is the one I have: Window Bird Feeder with Detachable Tray found at Amazon) It’s a great option if you don’t have trees.
I have only found a couple of drawbacks to the “on window” system. First, it brings the birds onto our deck, so if we are sitting outside the birds will most likely not visit the feeder. Second, if I choose to move it away from the sitting area, I will need to climb a ladder to refill the bird seed because all of my windows are high off the ground. Plan in advance, so you know where you want to place your window bird feeders.
It took the local birds about two days to find my new feeder. I was initially worried that the birds would hit the window or be scared off if they saw us, but that hasn’t happened at all. They fly right up and take what they want. It holds a reasonable amount of food so I won’t have to change it more than once a week.
While food is a great way to attract birds, they also need to have a place to drink. Try to offer a fresh, clean source of water that is easy for birds to reach and safe from predators. Many birds will also use baths for a quick dip to keep cool and keep their plumage in top condition. If you live in an area with severe winters, a heated bird bath will also help bring in winter bird species.
Visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for an extensive database to search for the birds you see in your garden, and you can even get the Merlin Bird App for your phone and identify them -on the fly.
As you can see, just a bit of effort will provide big rewards. What are your reasons for attracting birds to your garden?
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