The beauty of your garden does more than attract the attention of passersby...a lush, vibrant garden is also a welcome landing site for birds flying overhead. Birds have an eye for life and beauty and can spot it from high above. There are many simple things you can do to help attract cardinals, chickadees, robins, and bluebirds to your home garden. The main priorities are food, shelter, and water. Provide these three necessities and watch your garden come alive with nature’s phenomenon.
Step 1: Shelter
The trees, plants, and shrubs that you choose for your garden should be welcoming to local birds. Each bird species will have different habitat requirements for shelter and nesting. For this reason, it is important to balance both your personal preference for appearance, height, colour, and species variety, while also providing an attractive perch for birds. Here are a few popular options for nesting: Trees Birch Hackberry Hawthorns Red Maple Sugar Maple Oaks Pine Spruce Serviceberry Chokecherry Lilac Shrubs Viburnums White Cedar Dogwoods Elder Sorbaria Serviceberry Sandcherry Lilac Hedges Spirea (large leaf) Winterberry Cotoneaster Alpine Currant Cedar If you want to attract a variety of bird species, then you’ll want to choose trees, shrubs, and hedges with different heights and flowering times. Make your garden safe and attractive for birds by: • Planting in tight groupings will give birds a safer, more comfortable perch. For the best landscaped look, we recommend planting in odd numbers – groups of 3 or 5. • Varying the height of plants will attract a wider variety of birds, as mentioned above. For example chickadees love low thickets, while bluebirds prefer lone trees surrounded by wide open spaces. • Doing your best to keep pets (aka predators) at bay will attract birds rather than having them find a safer landing zone. Keep indoor pets indoors and use safe repellants to drive away animals – simply spraying water from a cold hose should work. • In addition to bird-friendly trees and plants, make the entire area hospitable. For example, check to make sure there is no sneaky spot for predators to hide near feeding stations.
Step 2: Food
A bird will be attracted by shelter, but they’ll stay for food. In addition to bird feeders and suet feeders, which you can purchase at your nearest Ritchie Feed & Seed garden centre, many plant varieties work well for feeding birds. For example sparrows love birch seeds, purple finches can’t get enough of elm seeds, and blue jays enjoy oak acorns. Berries, seeds, and nectar are also favourite food choices for many varieties of birds. Speak with our gardening experts in Eastern Ontario, and they’d be happy to recommend many examples to attract your favourite bird species.
Step 3: Water
Water is not just important for helping your garden thrive – it’s vital for attracting birds. Don’t forget, water is important in the winter months, too! We recommend building a pond to give birds a place to drink and wash up – plus it adds a peaceful, natural element to your backyard. Add a rushing water element and birds will flock from all over. Shop at our garden centre for all your pond accessories, including air pumps, heaters, and mag-drive water pumps to keep the pond useable in the winter. The most popular choice is a birdbath. Though there are some concerns about harbouring viruses, so take special care to empty it on a daily basis. With proper care, there will be minimal risk and the birds will get to enjoy fresh water. Visit Ritchie Feed & Seed to talk to our gardening experts for more advice on how to design a bird-friendly garden!