When it comes to eco-friendly landscaping choices, making your yard into a safe and inviting habitat for birds is one of the easiest and most delightful things you can do. By welcoming wild birds to your yard, you can support your local ecosystem, benefit from the natural pest control and pollination services that birds offer, and enjoy a little piece of nature without leaving your house.
Here are some of the best ways you can make your yard and garden attractive and comfortable for local birds.
1. Install a bird feeder or feeding station.
Food is at the top of the list of birds’ basic survival needs, so the most important element in a bird-friendly yard is a quality bird feeder. Better yet, consider creating a feeding station or feeding area that features several feeders stocked with a variety of food types.
Different bird species eat different things and prefer different feeder styles, so offering a selection will help you attract a more diverse array of birds. Ideally, your feeding station should be located in a safe and quiet space in your yard, with feeders placed at different heights and spaced a few feet apart from each other so that feeding birds don’t become territorial.
For your own enjoyment, you’ll also want to make sure you can see the feeding station year-round. In other words, don’t set it up in a place that will be covered by leaves or plants in the summer!
2. Install a bird bath.
In addition to food, birds need water for drinking and bathing. If you have the space and the resources, a moving water feature such as a fountain is an excellent option. Birds love moving water because it tends to be fresher (as opposed to still water, which can become stagnant). Furthermore, the sound of running or flowing water helps signal to birds that there is water nearby.
However, if such a water feature is not an option for you, a traditional bird bath is also a good choice. A stand-alone pedal bird bath will appeal to all kinds of species, from local birds using the bath as a neighborhood watering hole to migratory birds taking a break from their long journey for a refreshing dip.
3. Choose native plant species.
If you want to attract native birds to your garden, it makes sense to choose native options when it comes to trees, shrubs, and flowers. Local plants are the best providers of the food and shelter that local bird species depend on. Additionally, sticking with specimens that are adapted to the climate and other conditions of your area helps keep the local ecology in balance.
If possible, try to create zones of high plant density in your garden, as this will provide birds with more protective cover and safe options for nesting sites. However, if space is at a premium in your yard, a small container garden can still serve as a valuable habitat.
4. Encourage nesting.
Speaking of nesting, there are several ways you can make your yard into a space where local birds will want to build their nests. One option is to install a birdhouse. These structures don’t appeal to every type of bird. However, many smaller species such as sparrows, chickadees, and bluebirds love birdhouses for the safe and reliable shelter they provide. Just make sure to install an appropriately-sized house, including the entrance hole, for the particular birds you want to attract.
For birds that prefer to nest in natural cavities, designate a spot in your yard as a nesting area, and make sure it has plenty of protective plant cover and good shelter. Finally, don’t forget about the materials that birds will need to build their actual nests. Rather than keeping your garden impeccably tidy, be sure to leave some grass clippings, brush piles, and weed fluff from dead flowers around for nest-building birds to make use of.
5. Use color strategically.
Birds love vibrant colors and are naturally attracted to them, so a yard that contains plenty of bright hues will be extremely enticing. There are many ways you can incorporate color into your landscape, from painted birdhouses and colored feeders to naturally colorful flowers and shrubs.
Remember that birds are typically most attracted either to their own color or to colors associated with their preferred foods. For example, red is known to attract hummingbirds, which is why hummingbird feeders are usually red. So choose colors strategically if you’re hoping to welcome specific types of birds to your yard.
6. Eliminate pesticides and herbicides.
A big part of making your yard into a welcoming home for birds is ensuring they will be healthy and safe there. In general, therefore, it’s a good idea to dramatically reduce, or better still, completely avoid, pesticides and herbicides. These chemicals can harm birds either directly (birds consume the chemicals) or indirectly (by contaminating the foods that birds eat).
But don’t worry that your yard will become a wild, infested jungle if you don’t use these products. A big bonus of welcoming birds to your yard is that they provide natural pest and weed control by eating insects and seeds.