I love waking up in the morning and listening to the birds sing, “hello”. It is such a pleasant way to begin one’s day. I grew up in the country and our house was surrounded by windbreaks, open pastureland, and cropland. The variety in this landscape provided habitat for many species of birds. Now that I live in town, there are not as many feathery friends in my yard. In town, I have to make the habitat for the birds so they will come.
The first step is to identify which birds I wish to attract to my yard. This step is important because it affects the food I provide and the shelter I grow. Water is a little more universal unless you are hoping to attract water birds such as heron. While I do this research, I also need to look up the range that the bird can be found. This will tell me if it is even possible to attract a certain species of bird.
There are three things that every bird needs: food, water, and shelter. If you think about it, these are our basic needs as well! For food, there are many options. If you have the space, the best option is to add native plants that produce fruit in each season. Shrubs and trees are a must. These are good options because it provides both food and shelter. Other food options include bird seed feeders, suet feeders, nectar feeders, and, in some cases, fresh fruit. These additional food sources can be bought ready to place outside or home-made. Birds can be very picky eaters. Some birds like seeds where others prefer insects. Still others prefer nectar. A little bit of research will go a long way in attracting your favorite birds!
Water provides drinking and bathing benefits for your birds. Use birdbaths, ponds, fountains, or streams to provide water. Many times, birds prefer water that is moving so including a bubbler can increase the number of visitors. Water sources are especially important in the winter when many natural bodies of water are frozen or during drought periods. Be sure to add a floating heater to your water source in the winter for birds like cardinals that do not migrate. If you have been thinking about including a water feature in your yard, check out this post on Fountains and Pondless Waterfalls.
Shelter is the final important piece of information to obtain. This includes shelter from predators as well as shelter for nesting. Each bird species has a unique way of finding safety for themselves and for their young. This information will affect the perennials, trees, and shrubs that you plant to attract your birds. Some, like the meadowlark, are not easily coaxed into town because they love open grasslands. Others, such as sparrows and finches, have adapted to city life quite well.
Check back to learn about specific birds that can be attracted to your landscape!