Saturday, February 1, 2014

Creating a bird-friendly garden

Bird bath in a front yard
In the bleak and grey months of winter, the garden can be a cold and depressing place. There's nothing living out there, it seems, and when the view out my back window is dominated by my neighbor's punching bag.... Well, it's just not that inspiring.

I've seen a few little birdies out and about, and I started trying to lure them to the yard in October. It was pretty slow going at first, especially since the outdoor cats seemed intent on snacking on those little birds, but I have a hopping yard now that's free of cat predation. In fact, I've had such success in tempting birds to come to this yard that I thought I'd share a few tips I've learned along the way.

Birdseed options

When I set up my feeders, I picked a seed that worked well for me. It was cheap, and it had no seeds, so no residue would be left behind. Unfortunately, this seed worked only for me, as the birds just hated it. I switched to a sunflower seed, but that type of seed worked well for only one type of bird that came into the yard. Now, I have sunflower seed as well as a general finch seed mixture. In other words, I have something for everyone.

Multiple bird feeders in great places

Most birds, it seems, like to grab a snack and then fly away with it. When I had feeders set up in open spaces, the birds were a little too afraid to use them, as they didn't think they could make a quick getaway. Similarly, some birds seem to prefer platform-type feeders they can hang out in, while others like to cling to the side of something while they grab a bite. Right now, I have four different types of feeders, and they all attract different types of birds. Mixing it up seems like a great idea.

Bird inside of a bird feeder

Landscaping for the birds

In addition to bird feeders and seed, these guys seem to need water. They like to bathe, of course, but they also need to take little sips throughout the day in order to stay hydrated. Adding a few birdbaths in the yard seems to attract a huge amount of birds, including those birds that don't eat at the feeders. I have robins galore in my front bird bath, for example, and they never eat from the feeders. The baths have been so successful that I've asked my husband to add another in back. This is a work-in-progress shot, and when it's done, roses will go in the mounds of dirt.

Bird bath and dirt

It's also helpful to have a few natural food sources in the yard. The gigantic holly tree in the corner of my yard works great, for example, as the berries draw a pretty big crowd, and they tend to stop by the feeders for an appetizer.

Good luck and happy gardening!

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