Flowers don’t have to be the only colorful thing in your garden this summer. It’s fairly easy to make your garden a haven for birds.
The easiest way to get started is to do a little research on what birds are native to your area. It’s possible to attract migratory birds, but since they don’t stay for a long time, the best bang for your buck is to decide what local species you want to attract with your garden.
After you’ve figured out what birds are native to your region, it’s fairly easy to make your garden bird-friendly for those specific species. There are many resources that list what various birds prefer to eat and how they prefer to nest, which are the two main considerations for attracting them to your garden.
Some birds prefer to nest in shrubbery, while others prefer taller trees, and others will happily live in a nesting box. Some of the tree-dwellers prefer deciduous trees, and others pine trees. To attract a yellow warbler, for example, the ideal garden would have a small willow tree near native berry-producing shrubbery. To attract a house wren, provide low-lying shrubbery or brush piles, or a nesting box.
Obviously, the larger your property and gardens, the more birds you can attract, but even a small garden can be made bird friendly. The house wren example needs only a nesting box in a back corner and some small shrubbery to be attractive.
Some considerations for all species of birds:
- Include flowering & fruiting plants in your garden
- Provide shallow basins of water for drinking & bathing
- Eliminate the use of pesticides & poisons, which can be harmful to the birds and kill off the insects they like to eat
- Mark nearby windows with cues to prevent collisions
- Keep cats & other pets away from the garden so they don’t scare off the birds
The great thing about attracting birds to your garden is that it’s a two-way street. They can often help keep your garden free of insect pests. The house wren in the example above will eat almost any insect. The yellow warbler is known for its appetite for moths, mosquitoes, and beetles.
One of the more obvious questions concerns putting a bird feeder in your garden. While this will attract lots of birds, it also will attract rodents who will not be shy about digging around your garden for fallen seeds. It will also mean that you need to be more vigilant about weeding around the feeder.
With just a little bit of research and some small changes to your garden you can add a whole new dimension to your garden!