Attracting Birds to Your Backyard
YOUR LANDSCAPING CAN ATTRACT BIRDS
Trees, shrubs, flowerbeds and lawns contain the elements common to many home gardens. Perhaps the plants in your garden are not mature, however, time will solve this problem and even the youngest landscapes can be quite attractive to birds. The size of your garden may be quite tiny or very large, but even if all you have is a windowsill, deck or courtyard you can still attract birds from neighbors and nearby habitats.
Ideally, the landscape should provide birds with food, water, protection from the elements and danger, and a place to raise their young safely.
PROVIDING FOOD FOR WILD BIRDS
Set out only enough Wild Bird Seed so that it will all be eaten in a few days. Seed can spoil if you are too generous. A wild bird-feeding program should include a source of fat – usually suet – and a selection of grains and seeds.
Locate the feeder to manipulate the birds so you can easily see them. Different birds like to eat at the different heights. A well rounded program would include some ground feeding: a feeder on a post about 5’ off the ground; a few hopper or tube feeders for individual types of seeds suspended by wires at 5’-8’; a window feeder, and some suet feeders mounted on tree trunks at various heights. The feeder should be protected against squirrels by elevating at least 5’ off the ground and placed 8-10’ away from buildings, trees and over hanging branches. A bird feeding station is an easy way to feed an array of birds.
Water in a fountain, pool or birdbath is irresistible to birds and is an essential ingredient in any bird-attracting program.
PROVIDING NESTING SITES
It is usually a waste of effort to erect more than one birdhouse attractive to a particular species of bird in a garden of less than one acre. The birdhouse should be designed and built for a particular species. Generally, the simplest, plainest design painted or stained with a subdued color will be the most attractive to birds. Style and construction of birdhouses can be very similar; the important difference between species is in the dimensions. The diameter and placement of the entrance hole; and depth, width and height of the interior are the important dimensions to know.
ATTRACTING HUMMINGBIRDS TO YOUR YARD
Hummingbirds have two major sources of food – flower nectar and tiny insects and spiders. These birds are drawn to bright red, pink, and orange tubular flowers. Hummingbirds come eagerly to special feeders stocked with sugar-water.
Hummingbirds are in our area from late April to mid-September. Your flowering plants will help attract hummers to your yard, while your sugar-water feeders will provide a steady source of nectar, and bring the birds into your view.
If you have no visitors to your feeder in May and June, don’t give up! After raising their family, many hummers spread out to new feeders and are quite active in July through September.
For plantings, we recommend a combination of annuals, perennials, and vines, which might include cardinal flower, penstemon, columbine, fuschia, beebalm, honeysuckle vine, mandevilla, salvia, and alamanda.
HUMMINGBIRD NECTAR PREPARATION
The safest, purest nectar you can make is: 1 part table sugar to 4 parts water.
- Replace with fresh nectar every 3 – 5 days, more often in hot weather. Clean feeder with hot water at each refill.
-To make large quantities, boil, bottle and refrigerate.
- We do not recommend adding red food color or using commercial nectars.
An important part of attracting birds with nesting boxes is maintenance. As soon as the young have left the birdhouse it should be cleaned. Birdhouses should be placed where cats and squirrels can’t reach them and have an unobstructed flight path to the entrance hole.