Flights of Fancy :: How to Attract Birds to Your Yard

Published by Bucks Country Gardens in Lawn & Garden

I think there is nothing quite as fascinating as seeing our feathered friends flutter about no matter what time of the year. I have several feeders to attract a variety of birds and it is really exciting to see all of the different species that are local to my neighborhood. To attract them and to keep them coming to your yard, there are four basic items needed: Food, Water, Shelter and Nesting.

How do you begin?

An easy way to start out attracting birds is to put up bird feeders and food that appeal to birds you want to attract. Hanging feeders, suitable for smaller birds, can be hung from a tree, pole or hook. Platform feeders can be mounted on a pole or post, deck railing or fence. There are also window feeders and suet cages. Also, don’t forget our hummingbirds in the spring and summer. Hummingbird feeders should be located in a sheltered place where they are not exposed to strong winds or vulnerable to attack from predators such as hawks and cats.

And just like us, birds have certain food preferences, too. We carry a wide assortment of seed, seed mixes and suet. We would be happy to help you select the right blend for your needs. Black oil sunflower seed is one of the most popular seeds, attracting a large variety of birds. If you like Goldfinches, feed them Niger seed (thistle). Niger seed will also keep squirrels away since they don’t like this variety of seed. Be patient when you first start to feed the birds–it can take the birds a little while to feel comfortable around a new feeding station. Once they start feeding, it won’t be long before all the other birds follow. Be prepared!

Natural food sources from your garden

If you are serious about attracting birds to your garden throughout the year, then think about your landscape (or lack there of) and about planting trees, shrubs and flowers. Natural foods can provide nourishment at different times of the year.  Birds love berry producers such as crabapples, hollies, hawthorns and viburnums.  For birds that love eating seeds, black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia), Coneflowers (Echinacea) and Coreopsis are perennial favorites. They also enjoy seed heads from ornamental grasses. Many bird varieties also gravitate toward annuals such as sunflowers, marigolds, petunias and cosmos. Having trees and shrubs in your landscape and near your feeders can be especially attractive to birds since the fuller foliage and branches can provide protective nooks for bird to retreat to if feeling threatened by predators.

Water

Keep it cool–birds get hot, too! In the heat of summer, place your birdbath in the shade, if possible, and change the water frequently. Nearby trees also provide branches on which they can preen themselves. A good reliable source of clean water is actually more important than a food source. In the winter, use a birdbath de-icier to keep the water thawed for drinking. Birds also like clean puddles to drink from as well.

Shelter & Nesting

Nesting houses, thickets and hollow trees provide adequate shelter for our feathered friends. Nesting houses come in many shapes and sizes. One important tip: Never place nesting houses near bird feeders. Birds, like most creatures, have their quirks. Birds prefer their houses to be hung in a tree or on a post in a way they can clearly view the opening. That way, they can keep a close eye on their babies. And since feeders can attract predators of birds, keeping feeders and houses a great distance apart will lesson the likelihood of the predators discovering the houses. Something to think about!

Many birds prefer to nest in natural locations. Different birds build different types of nests–from twig piles, dead leaves, pet fur, feathers, moss, pine needles to grasses. Functional or decorative birdhouses also work as a shelter or nesting place. Natural gourds make very attractive birdhouses. For a DIY project, you can grow your own. Our garden center stocks gourd seeds that you can plant. How fun!

I think everyone has had the experience of having a robin nesting in a basket on the porch or deck and then seeing their beautiful blue eggs in a mud nest. Have you experienced a robin dive bombing you to stay away from her babies? Thrilling! But the best is when you see the peeping babies being fed soon after their arrival. It is wonderful what nature provides you with–a real-time movie in your own backyard. Enjoy the beauty of nature in your own surroundings.

Nancy McIlvaine | Dry Goods Manager