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Last Updated on August 30, 2016 by Diane Hoffmaster
If you are looking for a fun and educational activity to do with your kids, you definitely need to learn how to attract birds to your backyard. Bird watching is not only a fun hobby, it's also a great way to keep bugs from eating your garden plants. I love listening to the birds sing their morning songs in the spring. Knowing they are eating all those annoying caterpillars makes me even happier! Many bird species are becoming endangered thanks to humans. We bulldoze over their natural homes, spray insect killer to destroy their food and let our cats outside to hunt them. Helping support your local bird population will go a long way towards ensuring the survival of many species of birds. Here are a few tips on how to attract birds to your backyard that might bring a bit of enjoyment to your backyard space. I will also include a few affiliate links for products that might come in handy during your bird watching endeavors.
How to Attract Birds to Your Backyard
Provide food: This seems rather simple but you really need to research the type of birds you have in your area. Not all birds eat seeds! Providing a variety of food choices like insects, fruits, seeds, nuts, etc is a smart choice. Place several feeders in different locations around the yard so that they have multiple places to feed from. Many birds get a bit territorial and don't want other species at 'their' feeder. Here are a few types of food that might be enjoyed:
Black-Oil Sunflower is the most popular bird seed, and attracts a variety of birds to your feeder. Blue jays, cardinals, chickadees, finches, nuthatches, and sparrows love it.
Thistle or Nyjer is a small, high quality, seed that goldfinches love. Thistle seed requires a special bird feeder with smaller holes. Check out these thistle feeders on Amazon.
Seed mixes are popular for beginners because they attract many different types of birds. They can be messy though because birds pick over unwanted seeds and toss them away.
Suet is basically a cake of animal fat and is a healthy source of protein for birds, especially in the winter months. When food is scarce, suet may be a lifeline for many birds in your yard. Suet is often mixed with some seeds and served through suet cages.
Nectar is colored sugar water and requires a hummingbird feeder. Hummingbirds are the most notable nectar-loving birds but the increasingly rare oriole is a fruit-eating bird that also enjoys nectar.
Smorgasbird: there are many other types of food that you can feed birds. Many birds enjoy peanuts, peanut butter, cracked corn, millet, apple pieces and oranges. You can find a wide variety of bird feeders on Amazon for many different types of food.
Keep out intruders: If you put a bird feeder in your yard to attract birds and the squirrels and chipmunks eat all the seed, you will not be attracting birds to your yard! Look for bird feeders that are resistant to other types of wildlife. Install a squirrel baffle over your feeder to keep away the squirrels. Try to keep out the neighbor's cat whenever possible. Amazon has a number of cat repellents that might work.
Know what foods to avoid. Just like some foods are toxic to dogs, there are several foods that are not good for birds. Bacon drippings often contain nitrates and other ingredients that are harmful to birds. Bread, crackers or other processed carbohydrates can have ingredients that are not good for them as well.
Provide a water source. A birdbath will be used by birds not only to drink but also as a place to bathe. A pond or fountain also makes a great water source for backyard birds. If you can't afford to install something, consider a drip hose. Just using a drip hose to water your landscaping in the morning can encourage birds to come visit your yard.
Be an early bird. The first migrating birds may appear as early as February, When the first birds start coming through and finding food, make sure they can find some in your yard. Many others will follow! Once they know that your yard offers food and water, others will figure it out and start visiting as well.
Leave the leaves! Leaf litter is a great place for bugs to live. And where bugs live, birds often follow. Leave a small portion of your yard 'naturally landscaped' and let the leaves stay behind to degrade naturally. This will encourage many bird species to come check out your yard.
Provide shelter. Not only do you need to learn how to attract birds to your back yard, you need to figure out a way to keep them there. Birds are skittish creatures with many natural predators. Make sure they have convenient places to hide like trees and bushes that are not too far from your food and water source.
Skip the pesticides: Once you have learned how to attract birds to your backyard, don't kill them with chemicals! Choose organic gardening methods and stop spraying your yard with chemicals to ensure a healthy bird population.
Have any other tips on how to attract birds to your backyard?
Learn how to protect your bird feeder from squirrels with this post!
Diane is a professional blogger and nationally certified pharmacy technician at Good Pill Pharmacy. She has two college aged kids, one husband and more pets than she will admit to. She earned her BS in Microbiology at the University of New Hampshire but left her career in science to become a stay at home mom. Years of playing with LEGO and coloring with crayons had her craving a more grown up purpose to her life and she began blogging and freelance writing full time. You can learn more about her HERE.