Do you want to feel like a Disney princess and enjoy birding activities right in your own backyard? Birds are highly adaptable creatures and once they find a friendly habitat, they’re likely to stay there year round. If you want to be your area’s local birding spot, here are some tips you can follow.
Benefits of Attracting Birds to Your Yard
Why would you want to attract birds to your backyard? Having birds in your backyard definitely creates a sense of serenity. Imagine waking up to the sounds of chirping birds and having to watch them flutter in your garden during the day. Beyond the sense of peace – and feeling like a Disney princess – there are actually tons of reasons why having these fluttering birds can be a big help to your backyard.
What Things Attracts Birds to Your Backyard?
Do you need to put fancy items in the ground to attract birds? Not necessarily. Bringing birds to your yard can be something as simple as installing a feeder. However, if you want to create a bird-friendly environment, here are some tips:
Plant Native and Local Plants
Of course, don’t forget that birds are attracted to plants. They use it for shelter, protection, shade, and even food. You want to make sure that your garden has enough native plants that would encourage native birds to settle in your ground. It doesn’t have to be trees; it can be thick shrubs or nectar-filled flowers that gives birds the chance to play and hide in between the leaves.
Now, we say native plants because each area is different. You want to find out what bird species are most popular in your area and go from there. For example, hummingbirds love nectar from columbines, day lilies, and lupines. If hummingbirds are abundant in your area, then these are the best plants to have in your yard. A natural way of attracting birds is planting fruit-bearing trees that would give them the food and nectar they need without additional work on your part!
Mix Up the Bird Seeds in Feeders
A food source is always a good idea but what kind of bird seed should you use? Different species are attracted to different food sources so you’d want to put some variety in your offerings. For example, the black oil sunflower seeds are very popular with finches, cardinals, blue jays, sparrows, and other local birds. The thistle is very attractive to goldfinches and because these bird species have brightly colored plumes, you’ll definitely enjoy watching them eat.
If you have hummingbirds in your area, sugar water or nectar can also be an excellent way to attract more birds. Some long-time bird feeders also know that some species will enjoy other food source options such as peanut butter, cracked corn, oranges, and even apples! Of course, if you’re just new to this, you can try buying a seed mix from your local pet shop. This should be a good starting point as you get to know what birds like in your part of the world!
What about during winter? Food sources can include fruit, nectar, or suet which is animal fat that provides protein to the birds. It’s a real lifesaver for many bird species so if you start offering suet in your home, you can be sure that it will attract birds as these feathered friends spread the news with others. If you’re just starting, this is the easiest and most natural way to go.
Put up a Water Source
It’s not just about feeders – birds need water and keeping their feathers fresh and clean. Install moving water in your garden to attract birds to your yard where they may actually stay longer. A fresh water source would be a big hit especially during the summer! A bird bath as these feathered friends like to take a dip and make sure their wings are free from any dust, mites, or ants. A natural-looking water feature in garden should create a focal point while attracting birds to your yard.
Now, there are two ways you can install water in your backyard. It could be a moving water or it could be a standard birdbath. Which one is better? Moving water is often better because it guarantees freshness and adds a sense of calmness in your yard.
Put Color in Your Yard
How do you get them to notice your bird feeder? Well, birds love color! Like humans, they can appreciate a wide variety of colors and are naturally attracted to them. If you want to get their attention, try adding some colors in your yard. This can be in the form of flowers, flags, or ribbons tied along the shrubs and branches in your yard. Blue is perhaps the most attractive color for them but you can experiment with any color. A good technique is to tie a ribbon around a feeder so that native species come for the color but stay for the seed.
Put a Bird House
Aside from food and moving water, other ways to attract birds in your yard is by encouraging them to build a nest. You can buy a bird house from a shop or make one yourself and place it somewhere that’s safe and warm. You can also put some organic stuffing inside the bird boxes so they can move in easily. Make sure the entrance hole is just big enough for the bird to avoid predators or that there’s enough cover for warmth and protection.
For nesting, birds need organic matter to build their nest. You can see many birds collecting grass material to pad their nest for winter and make sure there’s enough warmth for the eggs to hatch. To encourage this in your backyard, you can also stuff a bird feeder with organic material. The birds will pluck this off and use it for their home. If you have a dog that sheds, their fur would make the perfect nesting material to attract different species of birds.
Put a Perching Stick
Another good way to attract a bird would be giving them perching sticks. It doesn’t have to be fancy; just a pole that lets birds perch on it for a few minutes of rest. The stick should be high up and shaded so that the birds can use it as a shelter from sun, rain, or snow. Sure, the birds can also use trees for cover but you may not have trees in your space. Some homeowners like to put fake birds with brilliant colors on the perch. This would tell different birds that the perch is a safe shelter and they could land on it without fear.
How do you Attract Birds Quickly?
Let’s say you’ve already done all the stuff mentioned above but you’re still not attracting birds to your yard. What do you think is wrong? Well, sometimes you might have the right materials but didn’t execute it properly.
What does this mean? A good example would be the bird feeder or water sources. To attract birds, you have to make sure that they’re located somewhere bird friendly. Usually, this means that the bird feeder should be isolated enough to encourage birds to visit the spot. You want them to feel “safe” when eating seeds or enjoying the bird baths. Hence, make sure to put the birdbath in a location a little far from all the foot traffic. Here are some tips you need to know:
Placement of Bird Feeders
Start by placing your bird feeders or birdbath close to trees and shrubs. You will notice that birds sample feeders by flying quickly to the food/water, taking a sample, and then flying back again to the plants. They’re testing the space to find out if there’s danger in this new birding spot.
Now, two things might happen here. If the birdbath or feeders are safe and far from possible threat, chances are the birds will stay on the seed boxes and eat as much as they want. If that’s the case, there’s no need to move the bird baths anywhere. However, if the birds are still afraid, you can try moving the feeder closer to the plant where the bird constantly flies off. This way, the feeder basically becomes part of the safe plant and the birds would feel more comfortable using the water sources or food.
Another way to attract birds is by weeding out the competition. Specifically, squirrels can be very stubborn and try to eat the seeds you give away. Fortunately, there are feeders today that are specially created to discourage squirrels. You can also try giving squirrels their own feeding area so that both types of animals will enjoy your garden in relative peace. Squirrels are just as fun to watch as your feathered friends so be ready to welcome them in your yard, too!
Guard Against Pet Predators
Of course, don’t forget that you might have predators in your own home. Specifically, cats can be very good in catching different variety of birds if they’re in the mood for it. You want to watch out because even if you don’t have cats, you might have a neighbor who lets his cats roam around the neighborhood. If this is the case, you want to be extra careful when placing water features, boxes, and perches in your home. Make sure that it can be accessed only by birds and not cats who are surprisingly good in climbing and jumping.
Preparing your Garden to Attract More Birds Species
How can I get more birds to come to my yard? Let’s say that while you love all the endemic birds playing in your garden – you want to bring in more species to make birding more interesting. This can definitely be done – especially if you have migratory birds in your area. Some birds like to travel through states with the weather and providing them with feeders and a clean water source would definitely be welcome.
Note though that there’s no hard and fast rule here. Your setup really depends on where you are located and what migratory birds will be passing through your area. This is why providing a mix of seeds, nectar, and fruit in your feeders would be a great idea to attract all kinds of species. Running water and suet are also irresistible to migratory birds and should be a great source of nutrients.
Do I need to Watch Out for Some Things when Feeding Birds?
Of course, feeding birds and giving them shelter in your backyard can cause some problems, not necessarily for you but for the bird. One issue is that the birds become dependent on the feeders. Hence, they are less likely to look for sustenance on their own, especially if they’ve gotten used to having a constant source all through their life. This is why it’s usually best to offer birds food during winter when food from native plants is scarce. Your bird bath would also be more appreciated during the summer season – as opposed to the colder months.
Note that a variety of birds could be flying over your yard. Unfortunately, some of those birds may not be looking for nectar or feeders. Instead, they could be preying on other smaller birds, which can be a problem. The last thing you want is for your nesting birds to be a free buffet for a larger and predatory winged animal. For this reason, it’s often best to put added protection in the habitat. Setting up nets that could discourage larger birds would be a good way to keep the space predator-free.
Note that since many birds will be feeding in your space, chances are you’ll also be cleaning up more often. When birds feast of fruit and nectar, they will have to poop them out. You therefore want to make sure that bird droppings go straight to the ground and act as a natural fertilizer. Don’t put feeds on a gazebo or a veranda since you might have to sweep up the droppings every day.
Making it Official
Finally, when you have native and migratory birds fluttering in your man-made protection, it’s a good idea to make things official. Some cities let you apply for a certificate to turn your backyard into a Wildlife Habitat. This basically creates a ground that offers protection to different kinds of animals, depending on your personal preferences. To certify, you’ll need to pay a 20USD fee but this comes with many benefits including having your own sign to show everyone that the yard is a wildlife habitat. You’ll be surprised at how much this can do for your wildlife!