Whether you’re a birder or a casual observer, learning how to make your yard bird-friendly can come with many benefits, including a reduction in pests, hearing the sound of songbirds in the morning, or just the simple fascinating beauty that comes from watching these graceful creatures flying around your yard.
Making certain changes to your yard such as adding a birdbath, bird feeders, and shelter for birds can do wonders in terms of attracting birds. Creating this type of bird paradise is totally possible, and with the right tools and some simple changes to your landscape, you can significantly increase the number of bird visitors you get each day.
Changing your landscape to match local conditions will be the best and easiest step. Begin by creating a map that includes the landscape features your yard possesses, such as shrubs, trees, and hedges. Next, you’ll mark off the areas that have full sunlight, partial shade, and full shade. Identifying wet or low areas will also be important. This will allow you to put the right plants in the correct location. Make sure you also test the soil in each of these areas. Adding some mulch or another type of organic matter can also help.
Do some research and learn about the type of plant life that naturally grows in a bird’s habitat in your neck of the woods. Make sure you purchase a wide variety of plant life. This will result in many different types of bird visitors. Before you purchase plants, make sure you have the correct light and soil conditions needed. I recommend beginning this gardening project in the early spring when the plants will be dormant. This will allow the plants to start to root when the soil is still moist from spring or winter rain.
Always use native plants since these plants are best suited for your area. If the plants in your yard are not native and require frequent watering, they will not survive if you live in a dry part of the country.
Many flowers will transform into a food source that birds can rely on in the winter, and can provide seed heads that are a ripe and reliable food source for a variety of species. Before you decide to deadhead your plants, you should consider leaving them behind for the winter birds. Additionally, if you plant some berry bushes that keep hold of fruit until the winter months, this will give wintering birds another reliable food source.
Below, you’ll find some great recommendations for berry bushes that birds adore:
- Winterberry holly
- Wild roses
- Choke cherries
- High bush cranberries
- Oregon grapes
- Saskatoon berries
Another option is to follow homemade bird food recipes and use this bird feed to keep your strategically placed bird feeders well-stocked year-round. Many people tend to only feed birds during the spring and summer months, but don’t forget about the local birds that don’t migrate and are in desperate need of a local reliable food source, especially during a particularly harsh winter.
If you have hummingbird visitors every year, then you should consider planting flowers that attract hummingbirds. These flowers will provide the birds with life-sustaining nectar. If you don’t have flowers in your yard that are rich in nectar, then you can also purchase the best hummingbird feeder. I recommend the More Birds Glory feeder, which is designed to allow several birds to drink from the feeder at the same time.
Keep Your Lawn Neat
Nature doesn’t create the perfect suburban lawn. Birds like to spend time in places that provide protection from the sun and rain, and spots where they can rest in peace, without the fear of predators. Bring in some shrubs, hedges, or small trees that will give birds a comfortable place to rest during the day. You can even replicate the way plants grow in a natural clearing and include ground covers and low-growing shrubs, both of which will provide some nice natural shelter.
There’s no doubt that a tree takes too long to grow, but they’re very important to birds and are used for roosting, nesting, food, shelter from predators, and perching. Trees can also provide some much-needed shade in intense summer heat. The trees that you have in your yard should be kept pruned and well-maintained. If a tree or branch is not stable, then it should be removed.
Birds, like many people, despise wind. Is your yard protected from raging winds and storms? Pay attention to the direction a storm blows in from and add some type of cover for sheltering birds. You can add a solid fence or a nice hedge along the side that’s exposed. This will give a bird some much-needed shelter during high wind conditions and will generally make your yard more appealing to birds in search of a safe haven in inclement weather.
If your roof is flat with gravel on top, then you should consider adding some containers or a cluster of large pots filled with plants, to create a sort of rooftop garden for birds. This type of area also gives birds more protection from dogs, cats, and other types of ground predators. Roofs are also hot and sunny, so make sure you plant the right type of species and equip the roof with an automatic irrigation system or a birdbath. Having a shady spot or two will also be a great addition and will encourage daily visits from your local wildlife.
If you’re serious about bringing more birds into your yard, then you can create areas in your yard that resemble mini-wildlife refuges. This area should be undisturbed by dogs, cats, and noise. This means the area should also be slightly overgrown and should include many of the plants that are native to your area.
If you want to do it right, then purchase plants, shrubs, and young trees of different heights. This will create canopy layers. Also, include flowers, long grasses, and other plants. You can use trellises, arbors, hedges, and fences that are planted with vines, which can create some great protected spaces for birds who want to rest during the day or keep a close eye on their food source.
The Danger of Cats
Birds are very fragile and vulnerable in the wild. Unfortunately, the leading cause of bird deaths in urban areas is caused by cats. If you have cats, then consider keeping them indoors. At the very least, if you do allow your cat to hang out outside, then use a collar that has a bell on it. This will immediately alert birds in the immediate area of their presence and will give them time to fly away before your cat even has a chance to spot them.
In order to protect birds and their food supply in your yard, never use pesticides. Avoid applying any type of chemical that’s not organic. Birds can pick up pesticide granules, mistaking them for food and will ingest them and die. Additionally, rodents can also ingest these pesticides and when eaten by an owl or hawk, it will poison the birds as well.
In the summer, birds love taking a nice dip in a birdbath. In reality, birds are actually very clean creatures and do love to take a dip year-round. Adding a water feature to your yard will not only allow birds to stay clean, but it will also provide them with a reliable source of water, one that’s free from chemicals and bacteria, which can cause serious health issues such as life-threatening infections. If you don’t want to add a birdbath, you can also leave out shallow lids and bins, Tupperware containers, or even a small kiddie pool. Of course, you’ll need to keep an eye on all standing water sources since these can be breeding ground for mosquitoes. Because of this, I recommend dumping out the water and refilling each water container or birdbath, once a week.
Now that you know how to make your yard more bird-friendly, you can get started adding native plants that birds can rely on as a food source, plants that can provide protection from the elements, and places to rest during the day, and you can add bird feeders, and a water feature to give your local wildlife a reliable food and water source. There are many ways you can make your yard more appealing to your backyard visitors, whether you want to create a rooftop haven, plant more shrubs and trees, or provide structures that are designed to protect them from windy conditions. Once you’ve created the perfect environment for your local birds, you’ll be blown away by how quickly words gets around. You may even start to notice a significant boost in your backyard bird population in just a matter of a few days.