The chirp and tweet of birds
whirring and hopping through my yard is one of my simple pleasures. Birds of a
feather and all that, it turns out I’m not alone. More than 70 million people
put out bird food to entice our feathered friends. Putting out bird food is a
one way to lure birds in the garden, but what else can you do to keep them
flitting about? It turns out quite a few things. Here are my top 5 tips for attracting birds to the yard.
Landscape your yard with your bird
friends in mind. This means incorporating plants
that create places where they can roost, raise young and find food. Depending
upon the type of bird, this may mean adding trees or creating a thicket of
dense shrubbery. Add shrubs that produce berries (such as holly, mulberry or beautyberry)
as well as fruiting trees and plants that produce seeds and nuts, and plant in
groupings to create a protected area.
Provide the birds with a water
source. Sure, a bird bath
is an option, but instead of static water, add a bubbler, mister or dripper to
create motion. If you really want to go big, add a waterfall or pond. Don’t
forget the birds in the winter. While they can get their water from snow and
ice, if you want to attract them, add a heater attachment to a bird bath.
Put feeders in the right location. Bird feeders are terrific ways to attract birds, but they
do their job best when put in the right spot. Some birds are scared to visit a
feeder that is exposed while others like to take a flying leap across the yard
to the feeder. Situate multiple feeders so they can accommodate different types
of birds. This means placing one feeder near a large shrub or tree that offers
cover for timid birds and placing another farther away in a tree for the bolder
birds. Give bird species some space and separate individual feeders at least 3
feet (around a meter) from each other.
Give them a place to nest. Creating habitat in the landscape is a terrific way to
keep the birds around, but you can provide them with options by hanging
birdhouses or a roost box. Be sure to have nesting material available. Some
birds use detritus from the landscape while others may use man-made materials,
such as cotton or string, and still others make good use of Fido’s shed fur.
Vary the menu. Many people feed the hummingbirds
or put suet out in the winter for the birds, but if you want to get a variety
of avian wildlife, try varying the menu. Yes, hummers like a variety of
flowering plants to fill up on, but they will happily sip from a syrup filled
feeder. For a treat, you can even offer the birds a sampling of your menu by
feeding birds kitchen scraps such as pasta, rice, or bread. Don’t use the birds
as composters, however. It is much better for them to eat naturally occurring foods
so give them the previous foods only on occasion.