A backyard wildlife habitat without birds is like the Statue of Liberty without its torch or the Lincoln Memorial without Lincoln. Birds are the most noticeable reflection of our efforts to provide a haven for wildlife. If you aren’t seeing very many of them, your yard must be lacking something vital. Here’s what pleases birds.
Hang bird feeders
Fill bird feeders with seeds, nuts and fruits that will attract your favorite birds, such as white millet for sparrows, safflower for cardinals, peanuts for jays and woodpeckers, nectar for hummingbirds and grape jelly and/or orange slices for orioles. The greater the variety of offerings, the more species you’ll attract. If you prefer to offer only one kind, then black-oil sunflower seeds, in the shell or chipped, will appeal to the most species of birds. Place feeders 10 to 12 feet away from shrubbery, so birds will be safe from hidden predators. List of bird species and their favorite seeds
Place a birdbath on a pedestal, hang one, or even place one on the ground (or do all three). Place ground birdbaths away from places where predators can hide. Be sure to keep them clean and the water fresh, even in winter, to help prevent diseases. How to keep feeders and birdbaths clean and fresh
Fruiting trees are a food source for numerous bird species, including waxwings, mockingbirds, bluebirds and orioles. Plant trees that offer delicious berries, such as mulberry, serviceberry and crabapple. Fruit trees also attract insects, a food source for virtually all insect-eating birds. If possible, let fallen fruit lay, as birds will feed on it there, as well.
Plant trees that offer shelter and protection. Cedars, conifers and spruces protect birds from predators and summer heat and winter cold.There are trees to suit any size yard, soil condition and climate. List of native trees for wildlife
Plant shrubs that provide fruit, such as dogwoods, Staghorn Sumac or Winterberry. Select varieties that will fruit at different times of the year. List of native shrubs for wildlife
Plant seed-bearing flowers, such as coneflowers, coreopsis, aster and sunflowers. List of native plants for wildlife
The food, plants, shelter and safety you offer birds will not only make them want to visit your yard regularly, but to also nest there.
Birds are particular, they don’t nest just anywhere. So your goal is to provide everything they’d seek in nature. Different species have different requirements. Hang birdhouses appropriate for the kinds of birds you want to use them. They also must be placed at suitable heights and locations. American Robins, for instance, like to nest on a shelf, whereas House Wrens need a birdhouse with a larger entrance hole than chickadees. Different dimensions for different birds
Secure birdhouses away from direct sun. If placed on a pole, use a baffle below it to prevent predators from climbing up. Select birdhouses that are easy to clean and well ventilated. Choosing the right birdhouse
Different species use different materials for their nests and they also construct their nests in their own particular way. Nests may be made of twigs, leaves, grass clippings, straw, plant stems, pine needles and other matter in the yard. Some birds use mud or add small stones to their nests. So, don’t keep your yard too tidy. In early spring through early summer, you can add to their choices by putting out extra nest-building materials. Here are some examples.
Pile or scatter short (2 to 3 inches long) pieces of yarn
Hair from your hairbrush, or your pet’s brush
If you’re a hair stylist, take home clippings for your yard
Put cotton balls in a bowl
Scatter mop string (clean) or yarn in short lengths (2 to 3 inches long)
Soft materials can be loosely placed in mesh bags — make sure the mesh has large holes so the materials can be easily pulled out.