Among things that avid gardeners enjoy, managing weeds in lawns and flowerbeds is not on…
The joy of a garden is not just the beautiful landscape but the pleasure of attracting and observing birds throughout the seasons. If you plan your yard like it’s a five-star bed and breakfast, with a generous buffet and comfortable places to rest, many types of birds in all shapes and sizes will come to visit year-round.
Like any good buffet, your bird buffet should contain a wide variety of natural food sources to please a variety of birds. During the growing season, plants – especially native plants – are an important natural food source. Ripening fruit and berries such as those on hollies are a nutritious snack, and as flowers ripen and die, they leave behind seeds that no wild bird can resist. Hummingbirds are a well-loved arrival to the garden in early spring, and they are attracted both to tubular red flowers like native red hesperaloe “yuccas” and salvias, as well as red hanging feeders fill with a 4-parts water, 1-part sugar solution. As we move toward winter, many gardeners supplement their bird buffet with commercial bird seed, suet, dried mealworms and other wild bird treats. In general, tiny birds like finches and chickadees like small seeds; bigger birds like corn kernels and sunflower seeds. When you plan your “bird buffet”, match your feeder to your seed: tiny seeds like thistle do well in tube feeders with special perches, while bigger seeds work well in hanging dishes and tray feeders. There are even feeders that can attach to a window, for hours of up-close birdwatching. It’s also vital to provide fresh water: traditional bird baths, cleaned and refilled often, will be a popular stop, and no bird can resist water features with the sound of trickling water in a fountain or recirculating stream. When you offer a variety of seed, suet, and other edible treats in several different types of bird feeders, along with a constant water source, will attract a wide variety of birds to your yard.
The second feature that will have birds flocking to your bed and breakfast is a comfortable sites to rest…and nest. Birds naturally seek out vegetation that supports nest building; the ideal nest site is generally several feet off the ground to avoid predators. If you want to encourage birds to nest in your yard, there are many nest box options. The size of the opening will control who moves in. Some nest boxes have a shape specific to certain birds; you’ll be surprised by options for owls and bluebirds, but beware: some birds, such as the common house sparrow, will move into any nest they can find. Install nest boxes several feet above ground, clean out the nest box at the end of the season, offer a variety of native plants and supplement food sources and fresh water, and your bird B&B will be open for business!
Image Source: Birdiegal / Shutterstock