8 Tips for a Bird-friendly Backyard

8 Tips for a Bird-friendly Backyard

Attract birds to your yard and keep them coming back every season with our 8 simple tips.



By: Shelly Reese

Whether you love waking to a warbler’s song or watching the goldfinch while you sip your morning coffee, creating a backyard habitat that will attract birds couldn’t be easier.

Why? Because birds love a less-is-more backyard — the less yard work you do, the more birds you’ll have. Here are eight simple ways your backyard can become the new birding hangout all year long.

1. Go Native
Native plants provide seeds, berries, nuts and nectar essential to birds’ diets. Make sure your backyard has plenty of native plants and remove nonindigenous species that might crowd them out.

2. Learn to Love Dead Wood
What might appear to be a pile of leaves and sticks to you is an insect smorgasbord to the visiting birds. Brush piles likewise provide handy cover from predators.

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3. Skip Pruning
You may think your spent flowers look dried up, but the birds that visit your yard will enjoy the seeds they provide.

4. Fill the Feeder
Store-bought seed provides great supplemental nutrition and well-stocked feeders provide an ideal opportunity to watch your visitors. Most species prefer sunflower seeds, but some species have distinct tastes. (Goldfinches and siskins adore thistle seeds.) While birds will feed from many varieties of feeders, so will squirrels, so be sure to choose feeders designed to deter unwanted guests.

5. Provide Soft Food Options
Certain types of birds prefer soft foods, such as peanut butter, mealworms and dried fruit. This also includes various insects, which are a great source of fat and protein for birds — so skip the insecticide!

6. Provide Shallow Water Year Round
Birds need water for drinking and bathing. You can use a traditional birdbath or simply a shallow dish of water, but you’ll need to keep it filled and clean. That means changing the water every two or three days and heating it during the winter. Don’t place your birdbath too close to dense shrubs that might provide cover for predators.

7. Plant Diverse, Layered Vegetation
Keep variety in mind when landscaping. Different types of birds prefer different nesting and foraging options. Layer the plants in your yard so you have a variety of tall trees, moderately sized shrubs, tall grasses and low flowers.

8. Supply Nesting Boxes
Make sure the boxes have ventilation and drainage holes. Leave some nest materials like straw and feathers outside for birds to find and use. It may seem a little over the top, but providing nesting materials for your birds is like providing bedside essentials for your guests: a considerate gesture that invites return visitors.


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