Birds to Your Yard
Food water and
shelter are the keys to attracting birds to your yard.
Aside from the obvious things like providing food and water
there are many things you can do to attract birds. As
the saying goes (if you build it they will come). The
right landscaping will attract a large variety of birds.
Many birds are attracted to edge environments where trees and
shrubs surround an open area. Choose trees with
various sizes and shapes. The idea here is to offer a
sanctuary with food, water, and shelter. A big reason
birds are attracted to edge areas is that there are more birds
that nest on the ground and in shrubs than there are that use
cavities. The bushes and shrubs also provide shelter for
them to hide in as well as food such as insects or berries.
A yard that has natural foods is better for birds and will
attract more of them then if your feeders are the only source.
You can easily create this kind of environment in your yard.
Plant a variety of trees and shrubs around the edges of your
yard. If you plant shrubs that produce berries, you give
birds one more reason to come to your yard. Birds prefer
an yard that is not manicured, so holding back on the trimming
will increase the number of birds visiting your yard. Even a
partially decayed tree stump left on your property can be
inviting to cavity nesters. By boring a 1 1/8 inch hole
in a sheltered side you might temp chickadees to finish the
excavation and build a nest there. If they do they will
probably be back next year.
Many people place a
brush pile near their feeders to provide cover for small
birds. Birds will use brush piles to hide from
predators, and for protection from harsh weather all year
plants, whose leaves drop off in winter offer areas for nesting
in spring, and summer as well as a variety of foods to help
them get through the winter. A good place to put
bird feeders is near your water.
want to attract song birds to their yards. One way to do
this is to provide places for them to nest. Putting up bird
houses lets you not only have the joy of watching the
birds but you become part of the solution to a growing
problem. Today as never before natural habitats for bird
nesting is being destroyed. More and more bird species
are threatened by extinction every day. It is estimated
that the number could be as high as 10 % in the U.S. The many people
that are becoming interested in bird watching are critical to
the survival of some species.
The most common
type of nesting people provide is birdhouses. This is
good for cavities nesters, however many birds nest in shrubs
or trees, and on or in the ground. Of these ground
nesting is the most common followed by shrubs, and trees.
A grassy area of your yard that is left in a natural state may
entice birds such as juncos to nest there. Since birds
tend to return to an area they previously nested in it may
take a while before they start using a newly landscaped yard.
Once they do nest there they will probably keep coming back.
Birds that use bird houses are more likely to move into a new
house right away, because it is often difficult to find a
suitable cavity. In addition to landscaping, some people
provide nesting materials. A suet holder can be stuffed
with things like string, feathers, and small pieces of cloth.
Place it somewhere the birds can see it such as on a pole, and
chances are you will see birds taking building material from
it. In a dry season, birds that use mud in their nests
such as robins, phoebes, or swallows may use a pan of mud
placed in a protected, accessible place. Providing areas
for birds to nest on your property becomes more helpful to
birds as time goes on. With increases in population in
cities and the countryside many valuable nesting-sites are
There is even
an advantage to farmers when birds nest on their property.
Here I will make a brief mention of the economic value of
birds. They are voracious eaters of insects. Where
there are efforts to increase bird populations in farm lands, and
orchards, the loss of crops to injurious insects has been
great. One pair of chickadees in an orchard will eat
thousands of harmful insect eggs. Even birds that feed
mainly on seeds usually feed their young insects. For
the first days of their existence they may eat more than their
weight in food a day. Parents will start the feeding at
sun up and not stop all day. Young birds will gain 20 to
50 percent of their weight during this period.
example of how successful providing nesting sites can be is
bluebirds. Bluebird populations across the U.S. were
declining rapidly. Because of a nationwide effort to put
up birdhouses, and start bluebird trails many areas that were
losing these precious little birds are seeing a comeback.
Many birds such
as robins, phoebes, or Barn swallows nest on platforms or
shelves on buildings. A platform can easily be built, and
attached to a building. It is best if it is under an eve
or something to help protect it from the weather.
Here is information building and
placing bird houses.
For more on
food and feeding click here.
For more on feeders click here.
To learn about favorite birds