Attracting Birds to Your Backyard

You may find bird watching to be a fascinating hobby. If you are looking for ways to attract more feathered creatures into your yard, it’s really not hard. Give birds what they need and want, and they will fly into your yard so you can enjoy their beauty and melodic songs.

Red cardinal sitting in a tree branch outside

Here are some tips toward helping you establish a backyard paradise that is certain to welcome birds.

Tip One: Provide Water

All birds like and are attracted to water. The glitter of sunlight will catch their eyes and bring them flying in. They need to drink water and they actually enjoy playing in the water. With this in mind, make sure there is some sort of water source available for the birds to enjoy in your backyard or  garden.

A birdbath or a pool, no matter the size or the material, would instantly attract many bird families, even wild ducks and gooses to the vicinity. Plastic birdbaths work as well as the concrete ones. If you must have a better model, check out the yard sales in your neighborhood for a good used birdbath.

Bird taking a bath in a fountain and birdbath

Excellent choices for other water sources besides birdbaths would be a water fountain, a goldfish pond, or a waterfall. The key in this is to make sure that the water source is not a stagnate water source as you want to attract birds and not mosquitoes. Have fun creating a place for your bird pals to frolic and play.

You can also provide them with a dust bath. A dust bath can be as simple as a patch of sand underneath the bird feeder.

Tip Two: Provide Food

Designate a specific food place. Map out an bird food station area in your backyard that would be suitable and accessible to birds.

By putting down bird seeds, bread, corn, or anything else they might like, you would increase the chances of them appearing somewhere in your backyard.

The seeds that almost all birds prefer are sunflower seeds. They are extremely easy to find and cheap to buy. Before buying the seeds, you should make a list of all the birds that you have spotted in the area and research every bird’s food preferences to assure you can provide food for many types of birds present.

Start with a simple bird feeder. Fill it with mixed seed so it can provide your birds with food. You can go for a more complex feeder to attract more species of birds.

Thistle seed will attract many species of birds, such as some finches, that other wise would not come. During the summer, put out a hummingbird and/or an oriole feeder.

Bird at a bird feeder enjoying the meal

Invest in a squirrel-resistant bird feeder. Squirrels put their paws on the doors to the feeder and it closes shut without hurting the squirrels. Because birds are so lightweight, they will be able to freely access the feeder and dine sumptuously. The added cost of the more expensive feeder will be offset by the savings in food that will no longer be consumed and wasted by ravenous squirrels.

Purchase good seed. Much of the seed out there is simply filler seed especially if it is dirt cheap. Spend a little more and purchase black oil sunflower seed as the variety of birds attracted to this type of seed is wide. Most of the home center stores offer bags as large as 50 lbs. Start with a five pound bag for the initial supply of seed.

Tip Three: Provide Shelter and Cover

Birds need shelter and cover. Birds have many predators out to catch them — everything from hawks to cats. You want to have a place for birds to rest, to check out your yard, and avoid cats.

Plant a flower bed filled with some evergreen bushes or ground cover. Or consider moving shrubbery around to provide a safe haven for your feathered friends.

Tip Four: Provide Nesting Houses

Supply your birds with houses. This would be a safe, dry place for the birds to raise their families. Create an environment in which they feel at home by planting trees that birds favor for building nests or place birdhouses in your garden that will provide a great potential home for these birds to make their own.

Be sure that you choose appropriate houses for the species of birds that you have nesting in your yard. If you’re fortunate, you might get to watch a pair of birds raise their young. This is exciting to watch.

Mother bird feeding her chicks in a nest in a tree.

Tip Five: Provide a Friendly Environment

Keep away the things that might scare or disturb birds. Animals from the next garden over and neighbor’s dogs can scare the birds. Persistent dog barking may not allow the birds to settle in your backyard or garden.

Certain species might avoid your backyard space because there is another species in it. Some birds can also stay away because of the fact you have children and the noise is too loud. Others can stay away because the place doesn’t look natural enough. Knowing bird nature and customs can be a decisive factor in bringing particular birds to your backyard.

Study their predators. Avoid creating a friendly atmosphere for the predators to hang out in your backyard.

Research the specific birds you are interested in and plant accordingly. Be sure to invest some degree of time when planning your backyard or garden to check into favorite birds and the flowers or trees they prefer.

Tip Six: Final Thoughts

The tips above will help make your backyard or garden an attractive place for favorite birds to play and build their homes. Incorporate them all into your plans for the best results, and the opportunity to live in harmony with the birds you enjoy watching.

If you live in an area frequented by chickadees, house finches, cardinals, nuthatches, goldfinches, grosbeaks, bluejays, and titmice, they will arrive and eat the sunflower seeds and other foods you have left out for them.

For more information about birding please visit the National Audubon Society’s web site. You can also check birding books out from the public library if you need reading material.

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