How to Build a Bird Friendly Garden
- By: Cheli Scott
- Date: Jan 12 2023
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How to build a bird friendly garden
A bird friendly garden is one of the many ways you can enjoy your outdoor space year round. Gardens attract a number of wildlife, but probably the most welcome are the numerous species of birds that take advantage of the food, water, and shelter your backyard may provide.
Why attract birds to your garden
Birds do more than just make pretty songs. They reduce insects, vermin, and rodents. Seed eating birds will consume weed seeds, reducing nuisance plant species in your yard. Hummingbirds are excellent pollinators as well as fascinating to watch.
Ways to attract birds to your garden
It is likely birds will naturally be attracted to your garden, but there are things you can do to create an excellent bird habitat that will attract a wide variety of birds to observe.
Planning a bird habitat
There are some things to consider while gardening when planning a bird garden. One important aspect is what insecticides and herbicides you use on your property. Toxic chemicals on your plants and in your soil can kill birds. Robins have been known to be especially good indicators of soil toxicity.
If you want to attract birds and keep them safely in your garden, you want to be sure to practice organic weeding and pesticide use.
Having an outdoor cat is not conducive to a bird garden, either. Cats are responsible for billions of bird deaths annually, threatening whole species. You can try electronic deterrents to keep them away from bird feeders and baths if you have neighborhood cats.
Birds tend to develop habits and return year after year when they find a safe place to rest, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t see lots of birds right away. As time passes you will notice more and more birds coming to visit your bird feeders and baths.
Growing native plants
Choose plants that are native to your area. Native plants will provide the food sources and shelter local birds are interested in. Birds are part of a healthy ecosystem, so adding to that habitat with bird friendly plants will help your backyard thrive.
Pick plants from your local nursery that have nectar or seeds for native birds. Native trees and large shrubs provide shelter and nesting space. Many native plants make beautiful and easy to care for landscaping. They tend to be drought tolerant and usually thrive better than non-native plants.
Providing food sources and bird feeders
It might take a little planning to decide what food sources to offer in your bird habitat. Birds that eat insects will forage on their own, but will also appreciate meal worms placed on a feeder.
You can also provide food like sunflower seeds, berries, commercial bird food, fruit, and peanuts. There are many other foods available to try, but those are just a few. Research what many birds native to your area eat to decide what to buy.
You need to be sure to keep food fresh and unspoiled. Don’t feed birds bread or other kinds of pet food.
If you don’t want to spend time refilling a feeder daily, you can plant species that provide seeds, nectar, or fruits for birds to eat. Many birds love American beautyberry which has striking purple berries and is easy to grow.
Providing bird baths
Birds need to hydrate and bathe just like we do, so providing a bird bath will attract them to your garden. Bird baths only need to be around two inches deep, with a sloped edge.
Ground foraging birds will prefer a bath on the ground while other birds will prefer an elevated bath safe from predators, so providing both can encourage different birds to populate your yard. Delay filling it during freezing weather.
Providing bird houses and nesting space
Different birds like different nest boxes, so you may need to try a few different kinds to see what is successful. Check your nesting space annually and clean old nests from your boxes. You should sanitize nest boxes with hot water.
If you have dead trees on your property, don’t bother clearing them out, many species of birds use them as nesting spaces.
Bird species to attract to your garden
There are over 900 native bird species in the United States, meaning there is a vibrant variety of birds that may want to come spend time in your yard. You can expect songbirds, raptors, and woodpeckers, amongst other birds. Some birds are better to attract to your yard than others. We’ve brought together some of the more common species to look out for.
These lovely doves can be found year round throughout the United States. The mourning dove is known for its soft, appealing coo and pretty gray foliage with an elegant, slender tail. If you would like to attract a breeding pair, consider planting trees and shrubs as nesting sites or build another kind of nest. Mourning Doves like to forage, so you can sprinkle seeds on the ground for them.
You might be used to seeing robins pulling up worms in the spring time. Native robins are found all over north America and have a pleasant whistle. Robins are ground foragers that help aerate your lawn as they search for insects, but will also eat fruit from feeders.
If you live in the eastern part of the United States, you’re probably familiar with bluebirds. These pretty birds add color to your garden and have a light, trilling call. Bluebirds also like insects and will use nest boxes if provided.
These small, acrobatic birds are very cute and friendly. They are great to have in your garden as backyard birds because they are relatively unafraid of humans. There are several different kinds of chickadees in North America including the Black-capped chickadee and the Carolina chickadee. They have a pretty high pitched song and eat insects.
There are 23 native woodpeckers in the United States. These interesting birds feed vertically and are fascinating to watch. If you want to attract woodpeckers to your yard, smear suet on the trunks of trees. They also like peanut butter, sunflower seeds, and are attracted to water sources.
There are a number of beautiful North American hummingbirds that you can attract to your garden. Native plants with tubular flowers and nectar are surefire way to bring hummingbirds. Hummingbirds are attracted to red and orange flowers like trumpet honeysuckle. If you want to go the extra step to attract them, they love a misting station to bathe.
Hanging nectar feeders can also be used, but be sure to change the water often and do not use red dye. Hummingbird nectar should just be sugar and water.
These larger birds are great to attract to your yard if you want to control vermin, as long as you don’t have small pets or chickens. A resident owl will deter wildlife like skunks, rabbits, and other small animals that like to dig around in garden beds or rats that are attracted to compost heaps.
Owls are attracted to large trees and dark yards. Turn your flood lights off at night to give them a dark area to hunt.
Enjoy your garden!
Attracting birds is a great way to enjoy your garden, adding color and song. If you need help pruning and planting trees and shrubs or planning your bird garden consider working with a professional like the ones at bhild.com. Call us today, or fill out our form here for a free estimate on lawn services!