Suggestions for Attracting Birds To Your Yard
The secret to attracting birds is to offer at least one of three things- shelter, food, or water. A combination of more than one will increase your chances of having an active yard.
Shelter can be a nest box (birdhouse) or a shrub or tree to nest in. It can be a shrub or tree in which to take refuge from the hot sun, winter storm, or a predator. Shelter can also be defined as an area where the birds will be unmolested by people or pets, especially while nesting.
Materials for nest building also fall in this category. A garden where birds can find twigs, leaves, plant fibers, and other building materials is going to be preferred over one without these. Do not leave bits of string, cloth, or fabric out for nest building since they hold too much moisture. This can increase the number of nestling deaths from respiratory diseases. Hair from your pet’s grooming brush or from your own brush is a good material for nests. A puddle of mud or wet earth, may be used by robins and swallows for building nests.
Learn the best locations to place nest boxes. Putting them in the right spot will increase the chances that they are used. Don’t overdo it. It is possible to have too many of the same type of nest box. If possible select a design especially for the type of bird you want to attract. Many nest boxes are designed only for looks however and will on be used by house sparrows. Do not paint the nest boxes bright colors.
Food for birds in your garden may come from plants growing there, insects or directly from you at a feeder. If you begin feeding birds in the winter you need to continue feeding all winter. A feeder will bring other birds into the area that would not normally be there. There may not be enough food for these birds if you discontinue before adequate supplies become available in the spring.
Face the feeding area away from the force of the wind and rain. Protect the food from moisture. Clean feeders if there are any signs of spoilage or contamination. IF you find after a few weeks that birds are not using the feeder, move it to a new location. Provide only enough food that will be eaten in a few days. Use a wide variety of feeding spots and feeders. Discourage nuisance species by not using their preferred foods or by modifying your feeder or using one with safeguards against them.
Providing a good water supply goes a long way in attracting birds to your yard. A water supply may be a temporary puddle, permanent birdbath or garden pond. Ideal birdbaths should be no more than 2-3” deep at their deepest point, 2-3’ in diameter. It should also have gently sloping sides. They should be 15’ from dense cover and 3’ off the ground if near dense cover. The sound of moving water will attract birds therefore you might consider suspending a dripping bucket or hose from a tree branch above the bath. Unfortunately, many natural sources of water are polluted, as a result the water in your garden is even more important.
And remember: Read the label when using pesticides. Use them judiciously if at all.