Home & Garden

3 Ways to Attract Birds to Gardens & Yards

Seniors and retirees that are avid gardeners and bird lovers want to know how to attract birds (and what kind of birds will be attracted) to your home garden or yard – by providing them with the 3 basic necessities of bird life:

hummingbird, wild birds, bird food, purple flowers, sage, gardens, attract birds, tubular perennials, flower beds,(Hummingbird Feeding on Purple Sage Flowers Photo: John Duncan via Unsplash)

1. Bird Food, Naturally!

Most birds have a mixed diet of seeds, berries, insects and grubs. Follow these 3 planting tips to attract birds to your garden and yard:

  1. Plant nectar-rich flowers such as geraniums, campanulas and salvias away from sitting areas, to brighten your flower borders and garden. These plants will do double duty by attracting the insects that many birds love.
  2. To up your garden’s attraction for tiny hummingbirds, plant tubular (red if possible) perennials and annual flowers such as Columbine (Aquilegia), Cosmos, Hibiscus, Impatiens, Morning Glory, Blazing Star (Liatris), Lobelia, Lupins, Maltese Cross, Four O’Clock’s, Petunias, Salvia, and Zinnias, to name a few.
  3. Ground-feeding birds like doves and juncos like leaf and lawn litter. Don’t deadhead your ornamental grasses and perennials such as echinacea and rudbeckia in the fall – birds will eat their seedheads in the fall and winter months.

Of course, you can always put up decorative bird feeders as well to supplement your plantings and provide year-round food.

2. (Running) Water or Bird Baths

Birds need a source of clean drinking water, even/especially in winter months. Running water is best for drinking and bathing; it keeps the water from stagnating (and attracting mosquitoes and other insects) plus the sound attracts birds. If you’re not lucky enough to have a stream going through your property, you can usually install a fountain or bird bath even in small yards. Put a Water Wiggler in a bird bath and it will keep the water moving.

Place your bird bath away from bushes (a hiding place for predators like cats and wildlife), and ensure the depth of the water in the bowl doesn’t exceed 2 1/4 inches (6 cm).

Attractive birdbaths come in a variety of styles, sizes, and materials including resin, stone, concrete, or ceramic.. Choose modern or classical, ornate or streamlined; ground level or pedestal bird baths; there are even heated bird baths to provide water in winter months!

3. Natural Shelters & Bird Houses

Birds look for natural roosting and nesting habitats provided by trees, shrubs and hedges. Conifers and evergreens provide year-round shelter and shrubs with thorns (barberry and holly bushes, etc.) discourage predators. Woodpeckers like dead, still standing trees to nest in, while clusters of shrubs and tree plantings have a broad appeal to the bird population. Fallen or cut branches stacked in a pile can create a natural winter protection for birds and other wildlife – so proceed with caution if you want to try this approach.

If you want to put up a birdhouse, there are plenty of unique, attractive, and functional options to provide shelter for your bird friends. In general, to protect birds from predators, it’s best if there is NO perch on the birdhouse, and typically wooden shelters in subdued colours are best. There are specific preferences in the bird population re placement height, size, shape, and opening of the birdhouse, so if you have a particular type of bird you want to attract, some birdhouse research may be required.

Happy bird watching!

Article Sources:

How to: Attract birds to your garden by Karen York | Canadian Gardening

Diane’s Flower Seeds

More About Birds:

Attract Hummingbirds in Summer: Top 5 Plants

Pet Birds for Seniors

Backyard Birdhouses

Bird Feeder Types

Anita Hamilton

50+ World editor & writer Anita Hamilton's articles are inspired by real historical events, places, and people. Her travel experiences, a lifelong keen interest in history, art, vintage music, books, silent films, classic movies, "golden age" television shows, fashion, & entertainment in general - combined with years of research - make her a subject matter expert with acquired knowledge & expertise on these topics. This, and a loving and supportive family complete with 3 mini-dachshund minions, keeps her busy.


Steele Honda October 16th, 2017 at 6:50am

I love birds, and I want to attract as many of them to my garden as possible! I had no idea that certain plants can also attract birds. I will make sure to plat them and buy the perfect birdhouse! Thanks for the tips!

Alexandria Martinez October 2nd, 2017 at 5:41pm

There were some garden decor birdhouses for sale and I thought it would be the perfect gift for my brother's birthday. He and his kids already love watching the birds in their backyard so it was helpful to learn that specific birds like specific kinds of birdhouses. I will keep this in mind as I look for the perfect gift.

Kenneth Gladman September 7th, 2017 at 7:14pm

My wife and I have always liked to hear the birds singing in the spring. Lately we have been missing more than usual it feels like. Maybe we will have to get a feeder to get them back. I like that you mentioned keeping them high enough to where they feel safe.

Finley Moreira July 11th, 2017 at 2:49pm

I didn't realize that different birds prefer different heights, sizes, and shapes of birdhouses. This is good to know since I've been contemplating getting a birdhouse for my garden. I'll be sure to do a little research first about the size and style of birdhouse I want based off the birds I'd like in my backyard.

Tiffany Locke April 28th, 2017 at 12:55am

If you know the specific birdhouse preference that the birds in your area have it could help you when making your decision. You'd probably want to do research and then look for one that fits the specifications. There are probably plenty of online options that will give you the chance to buy a birdhouse that will work for your location.

Senior City Admin November 12th, 2016 at 10:49pm

Thanks! The link has been updated.

Diane November 12th, 2016 at 10:32pm

This is Diane Linsley at Diane's Flower Seeds. Thank you for linking to my article on Flowers for Hummingbirds. I'm writing to tell you that the URL for that page was changed when my site went mobile. Here's the new URL so you can update the link:



Senior City Admin November 12th, 2016 at 10:49pm

Thanks! The link has been updated.

Sarah Smith October 17th, 2016 at 12:03pm

I love birds and want them to visit my yard. Thanks for the advice about how you can attract hummingbirds by planting nectar-rich flowers such as geraniums. Another thing to consider is to get birdhouses installed high off the ground around your yard.

Senior City Admin August 19th, 2016 at 2:29pm

There are lots of resources out there, including your local pet food store. Check out http://www.audubon.org/content/how-create-hummingbird-friendly-yard

Brooke McAvoy August 19th, 2016 at 1:44pm

I appreciate all of your helpful information on creating a welcoming environment for birds. My yard might benefit from the look of a few bird houses as well, because I don't have many garden accessories. I have noticed that there are humming birds in my area, and they are so cute! Do you have any tips on how I might attract these birds specifically?

Senior City Admin August 19th, 2016 at 2:29pm

There are lots of resources out there, including your local pet food store. Check out http://www.audubon.org/content/how-create-hummingbird-friendly-yard

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