Wild birds are attracted to backyards that have four main ingredients: food, water, shelter, and nesting sites. If these four things are present (either naturally or provided by you) your backyard will quickly become your very own birder’s paradise.
1. Food is the most important ingredient on the list and can be naturally occurring or supplemental. And offering a variety of food will attract a variety of birds. Popular bird foods include the following: seeds, suet, nectar, fruits, insects, scraps, and nuts. Sun-flower seeds and peanut suet seem to be the favorites in my backyard
2. Water is crucial to every bird’s survival, and adding water to your backyard habitat will quickly attract birds. Moving or flowing water is irresistible to birds because birds can hear the water from a distance. Also, offering water especially in the winter months will attract birds because about 70% of a bird’s non-fat body tissue is water and needs to be maintained to avoid dehydration. Here are some options to consider and remember to keep your water sources fresh, clean, and chemical-free: bird baths, misters, ponds, waterfalls, and streams.
3. Shelter encourages birds to stick around once they arrive by helping them feel safe – from both natural weather elements and predators such as cats and hawks. Common bird shelters include: trees, shrubs, scrub brush piles, and overgrown grassy areas. Also, birds aren’t especially attracted to well-manicured lawns, so feel free to let your yard get a little messy to provide more shelter (read my earlier post on why having a messy yard can be a good thing).
4. Nesting Sites will attract more permanent birds and while many birds prefer to nest in natural locations, some will enjoy attractive man-made bird-houses. Here are some examples to consider: trees and shrubs, brush piles for ground nesters, simple nesting boxes, and functional or decorative birdhouses.
It doesn’t take a huge investment in time or money to create a sanctuary the birds will love. Remember to include all four of these critical elements and you’ll be well on your way to enjoying your own backyard birding paradise!