Bird watching is a hobby enjoyed by millions of people. You can be a casual observer, watching an occasional bird from your window, or you can actively create an environment to attract them. Why not spend the upcoming winter months putting together a plan to turn your backyard into a haven for songbirds?
To encourage birds, you need to provide food, a source of water, and suitable shelter. Decide first which species of bird you want to encourage, then offer the food that particular bird prefers. Provide food directly in feeders, or add plants to your garden to create a natural source. Some birds feed on the ground, some come to any feeder, while others prefer the seclusion of trees.
Add some ornamental trees, shrubs, vines, and ground cover, as well as flowering annuals and perennials to provide both food and protection. Birds need a nearby source of cover in order to feel comfortable enough to come in and feed. Place taller trees and shrubs near the rear and edges of your property. Develop a “highway” of progressively shorter plants leading to your house. Add some light gravel or loose dirt around your feeder and many birds will come down to enjoy a dust bath.
Food and Water
Depending on the type of bird you’re trying to attract, you may need to provide different types of food. For example, Finches eat seeds, Woodpeckers look for nuts, and Hummingbirds want nectar. Just as birds eat different types of food, they also prefer different styles of feeders. Some are designed to attract a specific bird such as the Finch feeder and Oriole feeder. Ground feeding birds will come to a flat platform feeder and there are feeders designed for smaller birds.
Water is vital for birds throughout the year; so a reliable source should be part of your backyard habitat. Add a birdbath or a small water garden. Create shallow areas for small birds and butterflies. Birds need water just as much during the winter, so add a bird bath de-icer to keep the water from freezing.
Spend a little time planning and you will soon have birds flocking to your backyard! Then, get out your field guide and your binoculars and join the 20 million other Americans who enjoy the rewarding hobby of bird watching.