Image thanks to www.fineartamerica.comI sure do love my cheery little visitors and the joy they bring. My garden is their home just as much as mine and I feel grateful to have their sweet company. It made me start to think, what is it that keeps these gorgeous little creatures returning to my yard rain or shine? Where do they go when it is absolutely freezing? What attracts the different species and do they all have different needs? What are their likes and dislikes? Am I providing what they need? Agh, so many questions! So rather than get overwhelmed with all the "should do's" I decided to pick my top tips for attracting birds....
Food Food Food! Really, it couldnt be any more obvious. If there is food, they will come! Even if it is just to visit at first, if they know it is always there, they will come back time and time again. And that is the start of a beautiful friendship! Most birds love, sunflower seeds or any seed for that matter. Place in feeders around the yard or scatter on the ground as that is also entertaining for them. They will find it and totally love you for it!
Next to food the most visited stop is the bird bath. Whether just to bathe or to drink, there is always a bird splashing about. They will also be attracted to the sound of running water, so if you have a fountain (even if not meant for birds) that sound is a huge draw card, not to mention hummers love drinking from these. Bird baths will need to be cleaned regularly and if you are prone to frost, a heated bird bath is always appreciated, quickly making you the favorite bird lover on the block!
Shelter! So if you are anything like my neighbors, who don't mind birds nesting in their laundry air-vents every year. You can skip this tip. (Although Ive got to say, I'm not a huge fan of the bird poop splatter down the side of the house that goes with that, thanks for that view neighbor!) Birdhouses are a must have in the yard if trying to attract birds. If you have a particular specie you are trying to attract, mount a house that has the right size opening. If you are not choosy and wish to attract a variety, then place birdhouses with various size openings around your property. They want a safe spot to raise their family, so keep away from predators. Pole mounting is best for this reason.
Due to the way we keep our gardens these days, so manicured and yard waste free, birds will go else where to find the twigs, sticks, leaves..etc that is needed to make a soft cozy nest. Nesting material are a must, so make sure you have loose yard litter around your garden so they stay. In my yard, pfff, no problem! We could probably supply nests for all the neighborhood birds. You can even make a nesting feeder to encourage the nesting bird in to your yard all the more. Some things they love, yarn, string, shredded newspaper, cotton, twine etc. I've even heard of lint from the dryer (organic wash-soap)
Plan a space where the birds can enjoy. I have a kids play structure in my yard, its most definitely the elephant in the yard. I have tried to provide the birds with their needs away from the movement and the noise of two rowdy boys. Also a space where I can view them from inside, so on those wet rainy Seattle days I can still enjoy them from the comfort of my family room. Safe from predators ie, not the fence I see my neighbors cat on every day.
The last tip and in no way the least, would have to be the plants! Provide native plants that the local birds love. Plants alone provide so much, from the bugs they attract and which the birds then feast on, to the branch system that is perfect for a little nest. They offer protection from the weather, a safe place to rest and even an escape from those pesky neighbor cats.
But I have done so much typing and its now past my bed time, I think I will leave "Plants for attracting birds" for a later post....stay tuned!
Some great websites I have come across on this venture...