Monday, May 2, 2011

Tips on attracting birds to your garden

Lately I have witnessed some beautiful flutterings and some uncommon twitterings...oh how I love my bird sightings. Which led me on a quick little bird learning venture.What was that small yellow chirper that visited my maple tree today? It turns out it was a Golden Finch...First sightings are always so exciting!
 Image thanks to
I 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...


  1. Watching birds in the garden is so entertaining. Great tips and lovely photos! What type of bird is that in the bird bath? I do like those fruit/nesting material holders. I tried putting out fruit last summer but the birds didn't really touch it. I will try again this year and see if I have better luck.

  2. Very important information on the basics of attracting birds to your garden--thanks.

  3. Well done, Julia! Very informative and such a pleasant read.

  4. Julia a wonderful post...I have natural food, water and shelter for them as well as native plants but I have decided against feeders due to the upkeep and then the battles with squirrels....I used to battle daily with them and instead gave in to the natural food sources...I keep adding more and I think I now see more birds...I applaud anyone who does put up wonderful feeders for our feathered friends...

  5. So cool to compare notes with a fellow enthusiast. Those wire feeders with nesting material/ food in them are super! They look simple to make, and I bet the birds enjoy them.

  6. A fun and informative post! I just found a little female American Goldfinch on Sunday, up in our young Aprium tree, building a nest! I didn't want to disturb her while she was busily decorating, but I'm hoping to sneak a quick pic this afternoon. Even though I live in the woods, where you'd think nesting material abounds, the Steller's Jays this spring have been tearing pieces off of my paper drop cloth that's under the bee hives I'm painting. Every morning for the last week or so they drop in just after sunrise, and rip off huge chunks and fly off with them! Birds are so funny, and so worth attracting to the garden, for the entertainment value alone!

  7. Wow a golden finch, I don't think I have seen one of those before here! How cool!

  8. Love, Love, LOVE this post. We have been graced with a few gold finches, over the years. But they are a rare sight for us. Yay for watching birds.

  9. Yes! What a wonderful post! Thanks for the great photos and advice. This is my first year feeding birds, and I cannot stop watching them (neither can my indoor cats.)

    We take care of a colony of feral cats who live on the block (spayed and neutered) and who spend a lot of time in our yard, so I have to be careful about placement of feeders and especially baths...but so far so good.

    LOVE the nesting materials holder! Where did you find that one? I'm sure I could rig something up, but the ones in your photo are so lovely....

    Great post!

  10. Thanks for the sweet comments! Karin, I wish I knew what that cute little happy splasher is called! will have to find out.
    Donna, I am looking into going more natural too, but the bird feeders at window height have been a real treat.
    Kate, glad you stopped by =)
    CVF, those cheeky Stellar's, I had the same thing with my coconut husk hanging baskets last year.
    DG, Cool hey! I thought someones pet bird had escaped.
    Jill, I knew you would love this post, my bird loving sister =)
    RGC, so happy you have stopped by, I will post a link to the nesting holder, it shows you how to make one.
    Heart you all my blogging friends...cheers Julia xx

  11. Water is the most attractive thing we do here for birds. When there is a drought water is hard to find unless we provide a source of fresh water.

    I don't set out to provide bird tangles with plenty of thorns and cover. They just happen.

  12. I've had a good flock of goldfinches in my garden recently. They are so gorgeous in their spring plumage! Yesterday there was a wonderful singer in my white oak tree, but I couldn't find him to see who he was. I'm thoroughly in favor of enjoying birds, and I love galoshes, or wellie boots as I call them, too.

  13. Oh! How exciting it must be to see such colorful birds in the garden. Great that you manage to capture so many close shots too.

    Btw, I've selected your caption to post and has put a link to your blog. Your 'Mind the Gap' is a hit. Many commented that it was a great caption.

  14. all good tips Julia - good to compensate birds for the fact that our gardens were probably places they inhabited before we took over. I leave wild patches too and have log piles as many birds are insect eaters.

  15. I love finding that so many other gardeners share my love for birds ... I like the tips, especially the ones about water sources, planting native plants for food and shelter, and leaving natural leaf litter in parts of the yard. Our bird bath provides more entertainment and joy than any item in our home. And a winter tip for frozen bird baths: no need for a heater, just pour hot water on the ice to melt it.

  16. Nice read! I need to figure out how I can get closer to take photos. Maybe I can talk my wife into buying a telephoto lenses.

  17. Wonderful tips and beautiful pictures of our feathered friends.My problem right now is trying to keep the bird feeders free of marauding Raccoons. LOL!

  18. Great tips and great resources! I love watching the birds, and they help me keep the insect pests in check.

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Thanks for stopping by and reading my latest post! I love sharing my gardening adventures and reading your wonderful comments. Happy digging...Cheers Julia!!

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