Create a Songbird Sanctuary

Published by Bucks Country Gardens in Bucks Country GardensLandscapeLawn & GardenPlants

Waking up on a summer morning to the sound of songbirds chatting outside your window? Songbirds are beautiful and fascinating. They not only create an orchestra in your yard, they produce colorful nests and are among the smallest bird species. Did you know they have their own vocabulary? It might not be as extensive as ours, but their tweets and chirps actually mean something to them! Let us show you how to create a songbird sanctuary. Here are some you’ll see around our area…

Songbird collage

Common songbirds of Pennsylvania & Northeastern United States.

Common Songbirds of Pennsylvania &
Northeastern United States:

  • American Goldfinch*
  • American Robin
  • Baltimore Oriole
  • Black-Capped Chickadee
  • Blue Jay
  • Chipping Sparrow
  • Dark-Eyed Junco
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Eastern Bluebird*
  • Gray Catbird
  • Mourning Dove
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Red-Bellied Woodpecker
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • Rose-Breasted Grosbeak
  • White Breasted Nuthatch

*One of Nancy’s favorite songbirds. Both the goldfinch and bluebird are a sight to see. “Their color is outstanding!” Nancy says.

Most songbirds are not endangered yet, but their numbers are shrinking because they have fewer places to find food and shelter. It is up to us to create new sanctuaries for songbirds! Now let’s talk plants.

Attracting songbirds to your yard means creating a diverse landscape – packed with multiple layers to provide food and structure throughout the year. The more varied your landscape is in terms of types of plantings and vegetation, the better your chances are for attracting a more diverse selection of songbird species.

When designing and planting, you will have to keep in mind of horizontal and vertical spaces for foraging and shelter. Trees and shrubs provide shelter from weather and potential predators, as well as space to build a nest. Bucks Country Gardens carries a variety of great plants and shrubs to bring in lovely songbirds. From annuals to perennials, herbs, veggies, trees, and ornamental grasses, we have everything to entice ground-feeders, cover foragers, and create homes for all, however; sometimes you may need help from tree service Dallas if there is a tree that you definitely need to remove.

Robin songbird feeding

Robin feeding at their nest.

What to Plant in Your Songbird Sanctuary:

  • Native plants – provide a balanced diet of seeds and fruit. The more natives you plant, the more insects you draw, and the more varieties of songbirds will visit.
  • Large canopy trees – oaks, maples, sweetgum, sycamore, and elm provide cover for nesting canopy birds such as red-eyed vireos, summer tanagers, scarlet tanagers, Baltimore orioles, orchard orioles, and warblers. They also provide acorns, nuts, and fruits!
  • Smaller mid-story trees – dogwood, sourwood, blackgum, holly, and redbud provide lots of fruits and berries to refuel for migration. Attracts wood thrushes, Swainson’s thrushes, and rose-breasted grosbeaks.
  • Thorny shrubs – hawthorn or rose bush make protective perches.
  • Nut/fruit bearing trees – crabapples are delicious!
  • Berry producing ­– dogwood, serviceberry, chokeberry, and viburnum give lots of food options.
  • Evergreens – great winter cover and attract pine warblers and brown-headed nuthatches.
  • Shrubs – pretty much birdy efficiency apartments… Viburnums, blueberries, and hollies provide nesting, escape, food, and cover. Attracts grey catbirds and brown thrashers.
  • Vines – honey suckles and trumpet vines provide a thicket for birds to nest and forage. Attracts ruby-throated hummingbirds!
  • Herbs/Veggies/Annuals/Perennials – provide food and coverage. Blackberries and blueberries are the best perennials!
  • Flowering plants – Black-eyed Susan, coneflower, coreopsis, and salvia – all attract songbirds.
  • Ornamental grasses – create cover for foraging.

Songbirds Favorite Meals:

Seed – Finding a specific seed or food will attract the birds you want. In contrast, if you choose a blend, you’ll get an interesting variety of birds.

  • Sunflower seeds – a good basic and favorite of most seed-eating birds.
  • Cracked corn – attracts pigeons and doves.
  • Finch mix – attracts goldfinches, indigo buntings, and towhees.
  • Nyjer seeds – attracts a large variety of finches.
  • Safflower – attracts songbirds and isn’t attractive to squirrels, starlings, and grackles.
  • Songbird mix – attracts cardinals, titmice, blue jays, and white-throated sparrows.
  • Suet – attracts nuthatches and woodpeckers.

Insects – Yum!

  • Mealworms – attracts nuthatches and woodpeckers.

Fruit & Nectar – time for a sweet treat.

  • Sugar and water – attracts hummingbirds, orioles, house finches, and red-bellied woodpeckers.
  • Fruit halves – attracts orioles, tanagers, and grosbeaks.

Complete the Look 

Birds love to splash around in water, so including a birdbath is a must. Keep the birdbath in an open location, so birds can keep an eye on their surroundings and watch for potential predators. You’ll need to replace the water every few days.

Cardinal songbird on birdbath

Cardinal perched on a birdbath.

Houses and feeders are a wonderful final touch to your sanctuary. Bucks Country Gardens has everything from little copper top birdhouses to purple martin houses. Choose from little barn house feeders, glass bottle hummingbird feeders, and more! There are so many great choices to make your songbird sanctuary pop.

Birds of a feather flock together… and we really would like them to flock to our yards. One of our greenhouse experts would be happy to guide you in the process of finding plants that will make your songbird sanctuary a reality. Let’s get shopping! Tweet! Tweet!

Written by:

Nancy McIlvaine | Garden Supply Buyer
Heather Fesmire | Digital Marketing Assistant