Birdscaping Your Backyard
Whether your bird haven includes large country acreage or a small city patio, learn how to attract more desirable birds to your individual habitat. Like most creatures, birds require three important elements in their habitat: food, water and shelter. Conscientiously providing these elements is often called “birdscaping.” And, it’s easy. With creative landscaping, you can make your yard a welcome home for many attractive and colorful species of wild birds.
Visit our backyard habitat map to a little more about how to create your own bird oasis through creative birdscaping techniques.
Feeders: Place several feeders around the yard with different types of food. return to top
Tube feeders are excellent for providing thistle and other small seeds for finches and a variety of other perching birds. Cardinals, Blue Jays and many larger birds prefer platform or fly-through feeders. Doves and small mammals eat from ground feeders or seed placed directly on the ground. Suet feeders are attractive to woodpeckers and nuthatches. Feeders can be placed in the front, back, or side yard, preferably near windows providing a good view.
Water: Water supply is important. return to top
The presence of water, especially moving water, is important in attracting birds to your yard. Artificial ponds or a pedestal birdbath are great ways to provide water. Even an inverted garbage can lid can create a workable “puddle” for birds to use for drinking and bathing. In colder climates, an electric heater can keep the water from freezing. Baths should not exceed 3" in depth.
Bird houses: Essential shelter. return to top
Bird houses, as simple or fancy as you wish, provide inviting shelter for many types of birds. Place them in several locations in your yard. Don‘t forget to clean them out in late fall or winter. This minimizes the likelihood of disturbing nesting birds!
Conifers: Evergreen provide shelter and nesting locations. return to top
Conifers, or evergreens, are very important to your back yard bird population. They provide shelter in winter and nesting places in summer. Parts of conifers can also be eaten by birds including buds seeds and sap. There are many varieties to choose from such as balsams, pines, and cedars. Choose a species that will grow well in your region.
Deciduous and nut bearing trees: An important combination of shelter and food. return to top
Include deciduous trees in your “Backyard Wild” plans. Deciduous trees lose their leaves seasonally. Varieties including the white oak, Ohio buckeye, and shagbark hickory provide nesting cover in the spring and summer, a haven for bark-hiding edible insects, and nuts that are favored by many birds and squirrels. They can provide food-bearing nuts for hundreds of years!
Grasses: Nesting cover and forage. return to top
Many birds and small animals hide themselves and their nests in tall grass. A plot of bluestem or prairie clover can help birds seeking shelter and food. Pick a variety that is native to your part of the country. You can also plant peas, beans, or clover to provide food and enrich the soil.
Vine flowers and fruit: Nectar attracts orioles and hummingbirds. return to top
Red and orange flowers attract orioles and hummingbirds with their nectar. Plant early to late summer blooms for long-term attraction. Scarlet trumpet vine, honeysuckle, and regional variations of these plants are perfect for attracting colorful orioles and hummingbirds. Orioles are attracted to oranges cut in half offered on an orange feeder.
Annuals and perennials: Great color and a great food source. return to top
Planting a garden designed to attract butterflies and bees is a great way to add another food source for the birds. Butterflies, bees, and moths are attracted to a wide variety of plants such as coneflowers, black-eyed Susans and hollyhocks.
Fruit trees: Sweet treats for the birds. return to top
Fruit trees of all sorts are a treat for many birds. Cherries and plums make great summer feasts for birds and other wildlife. Apple trees are particularly attractive in the fall. Fruit trees in your backyard also provide nesting cover for birds.
Berry bushes: Good food, good cover. return to top
Many types of berry bushes provide good cover and tasty food for back yard birds. Raspberries, blackberries, mulberries, and many others are highly desired foods birds will flock to. Vines add value to your landscape by hiding fences. A few berry bushes will not only make the feeder birds happy, they can also attract other species of wild birds that may not visit your feeders.
Dead trees, brush piles, and rocks: Providing cover and insect food. return to top
Dead trees and brush piles are great sources of food and cover for birds in your back yard. Some of the common species attracted to this habitat are woodpeckers, nuthatches, and melodious wrens. Dead branches and brush piles may also give the opportunity to see rare visitors such as warblers and wood thrushes. These birds will also enjoy a bird feeder placed near the dried twigs and branches of dead trees. Other wildlife such as rabbits, chipmunks and frogs will also appreciate dead trees, rocks, and brush piles.
Nesting materials: A necessity for bird families. return to top
To encourage birds to build their homes right in your yard, consider putting out nesting materials. In a small wooden box or wire basket, you can leave yarn, thread, bits of cloth, grass, and commercially available nesting materials to convince your wild birds that this would be an excellent place to build a home.