Lockridge is an avid reader who enjoys learning about beautiful garden plants. Among other things, she has worked with a florist.
Encourage Birds to Visit Your Yard
Not only are birds interesting to observe, but they are also beneficial to the garden for a variety of reasons. Birds are natural pollinators, meaning that they transfer pollen from one plant to another. Since not all plants can pollinate themselves, and since there is such a severe bee shortage, birds help fill in that necessary gap.
According to the experts, birds will have three basic needs: food, cover/shelter, and nesting areas. If you provide these three things year-round, birds will be naturally attracted to your garden, regardless of whether you live in the big city or a suburb.
Provide Food and Water Sources for Birds
You may be inclined to think that any type of seed will attract birds, and you may be partially correct; however, different types of birds tend to prefer to eat different things. In addition to typical seeds, consider setting out fruits such as berries or low-quality apples.
Install a Suet in Winter
During harsh winter months, birds may need a source of fat in order to thrive. Install a suet or “fat block” (see instructions below) to help birds such as starlings throughout the cold winter months. Avoid placing homemade suet cakes in warmer climates, as the suet may become rancid; commercial suet had been treated to not spoil.
Experiment With Different Types of Seed
Always purchase seed from a reputable place and avoid seed that smells “off” or seems to have spoiled. Experiment with different blends of seed until you find a mix that birds in your area seem to prefer. When in doubt, think local. Supplement birdseed with whatever is the most common fruit or berry in your region.
Songbirds vs. Bluebirds
Songbirds frequently eat a variety of seeds, whereas bluebirds tend to prefer berries and mealworms. Don’t mix seeds and mealworms together though, use a separate feeder when luring bluebirds to your yard.
Birdbaths and Water Sources
In addition to installing bird feeders in your yard, consider adding a birdbath where birds can both bathe and drink. Refresh water and clean birdbaths regularly to keep the area sanitary and inviting for your feathered friends. The National Wildlife Federations suggests allowing birds to hear that water is available by installing drippers, fountains, or bubblers.
Install multiple water sources in your garden if you notice a large number of birds in your garden. Provide both still and running water to attract a variety of species.
Include Cover and Shelter to Attract Birds
Like other animals, birds like to feel protected, so make sure to position birdfeeders in strategic places. For example, position feeders where birds can spot danger from predators easily. (You’ll notice that birds often land on a nearby area and inspect the feeders before approaching it.) Keep feeders higher up from the ground if you have a lot of cats in the area.
Plant native species in the garden to encourage feathered visitors. Provide additional cover by allowing fallen trees to say in place or placing them in a secluded area of the yard.
Provide Nesting Spots and Materials
It is ideal for birds to build their own nesting spots, so make sure to provide them with plenty of dense cover (such as bushes or hedges) where they can build nests.
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If you install nesting boxes, inspect them periodically for cleanliness and any routine maintenance. Remove old seeds and clean boxes during the off-season with hot water, and reattach them securely.
Offer a variety of nest boxes so your birds have options to choose from. You’ll find that some birds have distinct preferences. Vary the location of nesting boxes from year to year.
Natural Nesting Materials
Provide natural nesting materials to encourage birds to create their own nests. Distribute fluff (such as balls of cotton or lint in the area), hair, string, or grass clippings, all of which birds commonly use when nesting.
How to Make Suet Cakes
- Combine two parts lard, two parts cornmeal or birdseed, and one part natural peanut butter in a saucepan. Heat until melted.
- Pour mixture into small containers (such as empty tuna cans or muffin tins).
- Chill or freeze containers.
- Insert cakes into a mesh bag or wire cage. Hang suet cakes from bird feeders or tree branches.
Instead of making small cakes, consider inserting the liquid mix into 1-inch holes drilled into small logs. Hang logs to trees or feeders.
Birds aren’t the only wildlife attracted to bird feeders; squirrels also have a keen interest in all those seeded goodies. Limit squirrel accessibility by placing bird feeders at least 10 feet away from all trees and structures or installing squirrel-proof feeders.
If you find that squirrels are unusually determined in your area, consider using a spicy birdseed or adding hot seed sauce to your seed mix.
Additional Tips for Keeping Your Bird Visitors Happy
- Clean inspect birdhouses for maintenance needs during the later winter months before birds rest in the spring.
- Position birdfeeders sufficiently far away from your home so birds don’t errantly fly into windows.
Useful Resources for Attracting Birds to Your Garden
- How to Attract Birds to Your Garden
Everything you need to know about attracting birds to your garden, with info on bird feeders, nest boxes, foods to avoid, and a whole load of top tips!
- For Beginners: Four Can't-Miss Ways to Attract Birds to Your Yard or Deck
Diane Lockridge (author) from Atlanta, GA on May 06, 2019:
Thanks for the sweet comments!
Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on April 20, 2019:
That's a lovely article. I love feeding the birds. I find it so relaxing to watch and listen to them sing.