How to attract Birds to your backyard

When trying to attract birds to your home creating a habitat that serves their basic needs is essential. Food, water, and shelter are key but aren’t the only variables you need to consider. While these satisfy their physiological needs, birds also prefer a safe space where they can socialize freely. That’s why we reached out to the birdwatching experts from Vancouver to New York to provide you with a few creative ways to attract birds to your home.

Foster a bird haven

The most effective way to attract many different species of birds to your yard is to offer a wide variety of food sources including seeds (especially black oil sunflower seeds), suet, nuts, jelly, sugar water (for hummingbirds) and fruits. Also consider installing native plants, fruit-bearing trees, and shrubs in varying degrees of density in your backyard to promote an attractive, safe habitat for the birds to forage, roost and nest in. It’s also a good idea to put out a birdbath or install a small pond garden so that the birds have someplace to bathe, cool off and grab a drink, something that is particularly important during the summer months. Lastly, make sure that you clean your feeders and birdbath periodically and keep your feeders full. Following these steps, it won’t be long before your backyard will become a bird lover's paradise! - Birdwatching N.C.

This spring, consider turning your backyard space into a welcoming haven for birds! The key to attracting birds to your yard is by providing for their basic needs. Growing native plants is a great way to encourage birds to settle in your yard by offering natural food sources and shelter. In addition, you can add bird feeders with a variety of food types to entice many different species. Proving a water source is another great way to attract birds because of course, they all need water! Putting a birdbath in your backyard is an easy way to provide a place that birds can drink and bathe. A couple of other important things you can do to help out our feathered friends are to avoid using pesticides and herbicides, which are harmful to birds and also to keep cats out of your yard! Have fun birding and good luck! - Meewasin

CRID - Western Bluebird - D.Mauk - APR-15-2018 - 2 (1)

Incorporate a variety of feeders

Get some hummingbird feeders up in various parts of your garden. Hummers can be territorial so we suggest at least 2 or 3 different feeders in different corners. Keep the feeders well stocked with a 4 to 1 dissolved mix of water to sugar. Once the birds know there is a regular supply of food they'll keep coming back. Take care to clean the feeders every day or so, and replace sugar water which ferments quickly on hot days. It's not just about feeders - get some plants on the go too. Hummers love brightly colored tubular hanging flowers rich in nectar. Reds and purples are perfect, like cardinal flowers, columbines and fuchsias. - Home Happy Gringo

Ulistac - Annas Hummingbird - D.Mauk - 2020-08-31 - 6

Don’t underestimate the importance of a clean water source

Our Friends know that their own yards can serve as vital mini-sanctuaries whether you live in the rural vast expanse or eastern Oregon or an urban 'jungle'. We have a few tricks for ensuring that you are supporting the birds that may find themselves in your backyard. First things first - food is not enough. Clean, freshwater is a vital and often overlooked necessity for many birds. A resident of Burns, OR and Friends of Malheur Board Member, Rick Vetter, says, "I use a combination of water, feed, and bait to attract a variety of birds to my backyard in winter." Water can be a shallow bath or bubbler and should be cleaned regularly. Rick continues, Feed consists of 2,000 lb of cracked corn and black sunflower see in several feeders supplemented with suet and a large plastic container of skippy super crunchy peanut butter with holes for wood pegs and slots for access to the peanut butter." What about the bait you ask? Well, Rick has a unique approach to that as well. " Bait consists of California quail and Eurasian collared doves eating the feed and in turn, they attract northern goshawks, Cooper’s hawks, sharp-shinned hawks, red-tailed hawks and northern harriers that feed on them. Merlins feed on the smaller birds. - Malheur National Wildlife Refuge


Try planting local natives

Firstly, I recommend planting local native plants like the Firebush (Hamelia patens). This plant is very attractive to hummingbirds and insects, therefore attracting other birds like warblers and flycatchers. Something important to keep in mind is that this plant has a tropical and subtropical distribution. Therefore it attracts birds suited for those conditions that the plant is also well adapted for. For that reason, before planting your garden or designing your landscaping, you have to investigate the local native plants in your area. Also, another helpful and easy way to attract birds in the garden, for example, is if you have old tree trunks on your property. These dead plants can provide a suitable habitat for woodpeckers, owls and in general birds that need a cavity to nest inside. - Drake Bay Birdwatching

Planning your outdoor space with bird-friendly plants that flower at different times of the year will attract a variety of birds throughout the flowering season. By planting early bloomers you will be providing a food source for early summer migrants (or straggling fall migrants) and by planting late bloomers you will be attracting birds leaving a little later (or fall migrants arriving early). And of course, you’ll be providing for your resident birds as well! To learn how to spot some of California’s most notable birds, check out our Guide to Birding. - Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority

The most effective way to encourage a variety of birds to your yard is to plant as many native trees, shrubs and flowers as possible. These are plants that the native birds have come to know and depend on over centuries. By using more native plants in your backyard, especially those that flower profusely in spring and follow the blooms with berries, you will not only encourage birds and other fauna to visit your yard, you will also encourage them to stay in your yard and call it home. - Ferns & Feathers

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Install a moving water feature

A simple, cheap, clean and effective way to attract birds to your garden is to install a moving water feature. Place a floating solar-powered water pump in the middle of your birdbath, surrounded by small rocks to keep it in place and to act as perches. Alternatively, if you want to DIY it, you can make your own "spring" out of a large plastic bucket with a lid (eg paint bucket) and a small solar-powered pump. Paint or decorate it to your taste, punch holes in the lid for the tubing and drainage back into the bucket, and place small rocks or stones on the lid to give it a more natural feel. The moving water ensures that it is oxygenated and stays clean for longer than still water, and it attracts the bird's eye more readily. - Birding in Spain


Originally published on Redfin

May 11, 2021
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Charlotte Graham

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