It’s a delight to have birds visiting your garden and displaying their bright plumage, interesting antics and melodious songs, no matter what the weather. Watching and listening to birds just makes us happy.
Do you often feel that you are not getting a fair share of this relatively free entertainment? You are not alone; birds seem to be rather choosy about their favorite haunts, preferring some yards to others, even in the same neighborhood. You may be dutifully hanging up feeders full of birdseed, but still only get a few birds daily. Try some of the tips below if you want to attract more feathered friends to your yard.
1. Provide a variety of food
Birds have specific preferences when it comes to food. Regular seed and suet feeders are not attractive to all kinds of birds. Variety is the key here. Plant an edible garden consisting of a number of berries and other fruits that birds adore. Good choices include red-twig dogwood, chokeberry, winterberry, crabapple, beautyberry, serviceberry and bunchberry. Check to see which of these grows best in your growing region and plant them liberally around your yard. These natural buffets will draw a variety of interesting birds, even in the dead of winter.
Have several feeders filled with different types of seeds and hang them at different heights. While blue jays prefer to have unshelled peanuts, woodpeckers and chickadees love to pick out bits of peanuts from amongst other seeds in the feeder, so arrange a peanut feeder exclusively for them.
Hang up pieces of fruits here and there for tanagers and mocking birds that pass by. Robins, woodpeckers and blue birds all love fresh or dried mealworms. These can be scattered on an open feeder or just tossed on the ground below your feeders. Be sure to keep feeders clean and seed fresh.
2. All season appeal
Birds will spot greenery from afar even in the dead of winter. Make sure your garden has a few evergreens scattered here and there. Besides pines and other needle-leaved conifers, consider evergreens with broader leaves such as holly and cotoneasters. They provide better protection for birds from enemies as well as bad weather. Robins love the bright red berries of holly. Flowers that produce sweet nectar are especially appealing to hummingbirds that will frequent you garden during the warm months. The insects that visit flowering bushes attract insectivorous birds like warblers and flycatchers. Identify bushes and climbers that bear flowers and fruits at different times of the year and plant several of them to have a year-round feast for the birds.
3. Moving water
Birds are instinctively attracted to the sound of flowing water. Fountains, perpetually overflowing bird baths or water dripping into ponds will tempt them to make a stop at your garden. Water bodies in the garden attract many insects which provide extra interest to flycatchers, warblers and thrushes. It is easy to create moving water arrangements using a small electrical pump that recirculates water.
4. Perches and hiding places
A well-manicured garden may look great to us but is extremely boring to birds. They may feel rather unsafe, too, without enough hiding places. When you prune your bushes and trees, spare a thought for the birds and leave a few alone. The leafy branches will offer shelter while broken twigs will make nice perches for them to sit and preen themselves. A great idea is to leave part of you landscape as natural as possible. This creates a nice habitat for lots of wildlife including birds.
Insect hunters like woodpeckers enjoy dead branches as they have high chances of finding some food under their peeling barks. If you have a compost pile in the corner of the garden, some birds will find it interesting as well. Remember, when creating a bird-friendly habitat, it is important to mimic the natural surroundings as much as possible.
5. Warm bird baths in winter
Nothing would delight your winged friends more than warm baths during the winter months. It is as simple as adding a heater to warm the water. Invest in either electric heaters or solar powered ones. Bird baths should be kept clean, too; birds, like us, like their water fresh and clean. Keep any water shallow as well and provide a rock or other stationary items for birds to stand on.
Presence of predators like birds of prey or cats in the garden can deter small birds from visiting your yard. Be aware if these are a problem and make changes to the height and location of your feeders if necessary. Another issue may be squirrels eating the birdseed before the birds get to it. Adding more feeders with protective mesh is an option, but many people find watching squirrels just as interesting as watching the birds. If you have plenty, no reason not to share!