Creating a bird-friendly yard is a bit of a no-brainer. Simply provide the basics — the creature comforts we all need for survival: food, water, protective cover, and a cozy shelter in which to raise a family …
Remember, too, that birds are attracted to seasonal food. They will stay longer in your garden if it contains plants that flower or fruit at different times of the year.
How Do You Turn Your Yard Into A Bird Haven? Look at it from a bird’s-eye point of view and make sure to provide the following:
Provide water year-round – A simple birdbath is a great start. Change water every 2-3 days in summer and use a heater in the winter. Place the water container about 10 feet from dense shrubs or other cover that predators may use.
Select a variety of native plants to offer year-round food in the form of seeds, berries, nuts, and nectar. Try to recreate the plant ecosystem native to your area. Evergreen trees and shrubs provide excellent cover through all seasons …
Organic Pest Control
Eliminate insecticides in your yard – Insects are the primary source of food for many bird species and are an important source of protein and fats for growing juvenile birds. Going organic is best for you, your family, your pets, and local wildlife.
You should treat artificial feeders as a supplement to your native garden. (See recommended bird-attracting shrubs and perennials below) Use bird feeders with good quality seed. Clean your feeders regularly with hot water, and let them air dry completely. Also keep areas under and around the feeders clean …
Place bird feeders in locations that do not provide hiding places for cats and other predators. Place feeders ten to twelve feet from low shrubs or brush piles. Keep seed clean and dry, and watch for any signs of mold. I stock my feeders during the winter or when natural food is unusually lacking …
Many native trees and shrubs have dense foliage, providing shelter for many birds. For example, spruces make an excellent year-round haven for birds, as well as nesting and roosting sites …
Oaks provide food (acorns), shelter, and nesting sites for many bird species. Also you can help your feathered friends by setting out nest boxes for cavity-nesting birds such as chickadees, nuthatches, house wrens, purple martins, and bluebirds.
1. Viburnums: This group of easy care shrubs brings bloom, fruit, and fall color to zone 5/6 yards. Many of them have berries that attract birds and may persist most of the winter. Some of my favorites in this family are Chicago Lustre, Blue Muffin Viburnum, and Summer Magic Blackhaw…all have striking blue berries.
Note: fruit set will be heavier if planted in groups or near another viburnum.
2. Chokeberry (Aronia): The chokeberries are attractive ornamental plants for gardens. They are generally resistant to drought, insects, pollution, and disease. The small white or pale pink flowers in spring produce brilliant red berries in late summer that persist through the winter, much to the delight of birds.
3. Dogwood (Cornus): Dogwoods are vigorous, flowering shrubs that attract birds, add winter interest, and can thrive in a wet area where other shrubs surrender. I have a Red Twig Dogwood and love the way the red stems contrast against the snow in winter.
4. Cotoneaster: Cotoneasters make effective groundcovers or facer plants. When I was new to gardening – I made the mistake of pronouncing it the way it looks “cotton Easter”…oops! The correct pronunciation is kah-toe-nee-aster. Just trying to save you some embarrassment. Beautiful fall coloration on these shrubs plus birds love the fruit.
5. Ninebark (Physocarpus): Ninebark has colorful foliage in reddish orange to burgundy. The attractive exfoliating bark adds winter interest. White flowers are followed by stunning bright red seed pods which are major bird attactors.
Flowers To Attract Birds:
1. Rudbeckia: These vigorous, cheery, and well-flowered perennials come in a variety of heights. Both birds and butterflies adore the daisy-like flowers and seedheads. I have Black-Eyed Susan and Sweet Coneflower in my garden.
2. Joe Pye Weed: Songbirds are attracted to the nutritious seeds and to the insects attracted to the flowers. The plant is also an important nectaring and host plant for butterflies. Pink to mauve flower clusters make an impressive display.
3. Liatris: A very adaptable perennial that forms attractive tight clumps of dramatic upright flowering stems. Loved by birds, butterflies and bees! The fuzzy looking flowers in white, or shades of pinky purple, start blooming at the top of the spike and move downward in succession. (Photo left)
4. Sundrops (Oenothera): A drought tolerant, aggressive spreader. Glowing with light throughout the summer, the bright yellow crepe paper blossoms shimmer in the sun. The seedpods are treasured by birds.
5. Coreopsis: Long flowering U.S. natives usually with yellow daisy-like blooms (also available in white, orange, red and bi-color). Attracts birds and butterflies and is deer resistant. Be careful of the bunnies though…they like it!
6. Coneflowers (Echinacea): A perennial garden favorite adored by birds and butterflies. Every year new and interesting cultivars are introduced in a myriad of colors. They aren’t just purple anymore! This summer I planted ‘Sombrero Hot Coral’ and ‘Sombrero Salsa Red’…very pretty and great for cutting too.
7. Goldenrod (Solidago): This native previously got a bad rap as the cause of fall allergies or hay fever. It’s not the culprit…ragweed is the bad guy. My neighbor has Blue-Stemmed Goldenrod in her garden. Lovely purplish arching stems with clusters of hundreds of tiny golden yellow flowers. A magnet for birds, butterflies and hummingbirds.
Now Go Create A Bird Friendly Yard
By creating your own backyard bird haven, you’ll enjoy an ever-changing spectacle of melodious sound, graceful movement, and lively color. Plus, your feathered guests’ antics provide hours of entertainment.
To attract a wide variety of birds, you must provide the right environment: water, food sources, and shelter options. Do so and your yard and garden will become the favorite destination of any manner of bird …
Attracting birds is also a great way to introduce young people to nature, and it’s something the whole family can share and enjoy!