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:
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
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