Birds in Your Garden
What attracts birds to your garden? There are several factors that will make a garden attractive to birds. These factors are the availability of shelter, food and water. If you want to attract birds to your garden, it is best to cater to all of these factors the best you can.
For birds there are several ways to provide shelter, and different birds will have different needs for their shelter and nesting. When you are developing your garden plan it is important to look at the plants that will give the most to the birds and still fit with what you will enjoy as well.
Look at height and flowering time so that you get a variety of attractions.
Some of the options for plants for nesting include:
Trees Shrubs Hedges
Birch Viburnums Spirea (large leaf)
Hackberry White Cedar Winterberry
Hawthorns Dogwoods Cotoneaster
Red Maple Elder Alpine Currant
Sugar Maple Sorbaria Cedar
When you are planting your bird friendly gardens you should ensure safety and attraction by:
Plant plants in groupings so that the plants are tighter, giving birds a better level of safety and protection. Generally they look best if you plant them in odd numbers, 3’s and 5’s, etc.
Vary the height of the plantings that you have. Different birds will nest in different types of trees and shrubs and of different heights, so include various heights in your design to allow for a wide variety of birds to live there.
Maintain control over predators as best as possible. This would include keeping indoor pets indoors, and discouraging other’s pets from staying around your bird feeders, and their habitat. There are several repellents that can be used that will help in doing this, as well as discouraging them with cold water from a hose when you can.
Ensure that the area you plan for your birds is friendly for your birds, such as not having a place for predators to hide near their feeding stations, and that windows have a reflective strip of some sort to prevent window kills.
An obvious part of your bird garden is food for the birds. This would not only include bird feeders and suet feeders, but also plants that will give the best results for the birds needs as well.
When planting for feeding birds there are several plant varieties that work well. They are:
Birch (Seeds) Common Elder (Fruit) Elm (Seeds)
Yellow bellied Sapsucker Eastern Kingbird Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Chickadee Eastern Phoebe Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Sparrow Swainson’s Thrush Yellow-rumped Warbler
Common Redpoll American Robin Purple Finch
Pine Siskin Cowbird American Goldfinch
Hackberry (Fruit) Hawthorn (Fruit) Red Maple (Seeds, Buds & Flower)
American Robin Cedar Waxwing Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Cedar Waxwing Pine Grosbeak Red-breasted Nuthatch
Evening Grosbeak American Robin Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Eastern Phoebe Pine Grosbeak
American Crow Evening Grosbeak
Pines (Seeds) Serviceberry (Fruit) Sugar Maple (Seeds, Buds & Flowers)
Mourning Doves American Crow Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Northern Flicker Chickadee Red-breasted Nuthatch
Chickadee American Robin Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Red-breasted Nuthatch Eastern Bluebird Pine Grosbeak
White-breasted Nuthatch Brown Thrasher Evening Grosbeak
Dark-eyed Junco Scarlet Tanager
House Finch Northern Cardinal
White-winged Crossbill Rose-breasted Grosbeak Oak (Acorns)
Pine Siskin Baltimore Oriole Blue Jay
American Goldfinch White-breasted Nuthatch
Evening Grosbeak Common Grackle
Serviceberry (Fruit) Dogwood (fruit) Viburnums (fruit)
-See Tree Section Above Eastern Kingbird Evening Grosbeak
Red-eyed Vireo Cedar Waxwing
Warbling Vireo Northern Cardinal
Eastern Bluebird American Robin
Hermit Thrush Hermit Thrush
Other plants that are excellent for birds would include
Fruit Seeds Nectar
Flowering Raspberry Goldenrod Monarda
Staghorn Sumac Evening Primrose Butterfly Weed
Bittersweet Panicum Butterfly Bush
Virginia Creeper Sunflower Weigela
Grape Wild strawberry Phlox
Strawberry Shasta Daisy Impatiens
Blackberry Rudbeckia Petunias
Gooseberry Aster Calendula
Saskatoon Berry Miscanthus Portulaca
Snowberry Reed Grass Honeysuckle
Firethorn Coreopsis Marigolds
Oregon Grape Holly Columbines Columbines
The least provided, and the most needed, water is the best un-kept secret about bird gardening. Most people know that water is excellent for attracting birds, yet it often goes undone, especially in the winter.
There are several ways to incorporate water into your garden.
Ponds. By building a pond, be it large or small, you allow for birds to have a haven to wash in and drink from, and it approximates nature and makes them feel at home. With the running water of a waterfall, or an ornament, birds can tell from a long distance that there is water there for them and they will come and enjoy. Be sure to allow for a place for them to stand and wash in. Put various levels, and rocks for them to access the water with, and ideally, a very shallow part somewhere for them as well. A pond can be kept open and useable
throughout most of the winter through the use of air pumps; heaters and mag drive water pumps. Birds can continue to utilize the pond as a water source up to the coldest days of the year.
Birdbaths. The most used source of water for birds, birdbaths have become less popular with the west nile virus. It is important if you are going to keep a birdbath to empty and refill it daily. This is a good practice regardless of the west nile virus because you should keep the water fresh for the birds at all times. In the winter it is tricky to maintain a water source, but with the use of a birdbath heater it is easier than before. The trick is to never neglect the birdbath and continue to maintain the birds’ habitat for them.