You’ve bought the bird feeders, chosen the birdseed, and set everything up to look like a dream hot spot for your local neighborhood birds. However, when you sit back and watch you notice that there are far fewer birds than you would like to see coming by to visit. It’s a situation that can be very discouraging for bird lovers!
You’re left asking yourself: What is the secret to attracting backyard birds?
The good news is that there are many little changes and updates that you can make with your feathered friends in mind, attracting even more visitors to your backyard oasis. To help you get started, we’ve put together this easy-to-follow guide. Let’s get started!
You Will Need
- Several different types of bird feeders (hoppers, tube feeders, tray feeders, nectar feeders, suet feeders, etc.)
- A selection of different bird feed options (different seeds, fruit, suet, nectar)
- Small submersible fountain water pump
- A birdbath heater
- A variety of bird-friendly plants including flowers, shrubs, and trees
- Organic materials for nesting, such as grass clippings and dried weeds
- Several birdhouses in a variety of sizes
Step One: Choose the Best Location for Your Feeders
One big mistake that bird lovers make when first setting up their bird feeders is to put them somewhere in the open so that they are easier to see. However, for your local birds, an open feeder with no nearby cover is a major safety concern! If you are hoping to attract many birds to your yard, you need to create a space where they feel safe and secure.
You will notice that most birds don’t remain on your feeder the entire time that they are visiting, they come and go from a local branch or bush. This is because they prefer to wait in an area where they know that they are safe from predators, watching the feeder and surrounding area until they feel it is safe to enjoy a snack, then retreating to observe until they go again. Set up your bird feeders in an area that isn’t necessarily directly in the trees (as that could lead to problems with the local squirrels) but is close by.
In addition to setting your feed up where there is an appropriate level of cover, you also want to consider the level of activity in that area. Avoid highly trafficked spaces like walkways, alongside your driveway, or too close to the road.
Step Two: Provide a Variety of Bird Feeders and Bird Feed
There are many different bird feeder types available including tube feeders, hoppers or house feeders, tray feeders, suet feeders, and more. If you’re looking to attract a wide variety of birds, you will have to offer a wide variety of options. This includes different feeder types as well as an assortment of different food options. Each bird species has its own preferred type of feed. Just as we can pick and choose when visiting a buffet, ensuring that there is something for everyone, so too can your birds if you set up your own ‘bird buffet’.
Step Three: Include a Source of Clean, Moving Water
Not only do are your neighborhood birds searching for sources of food, but they are also searching for clean water. Keeping this in mind, one way that you can attract more birds to your yard is by creating a space where they are able to fulfill both needs in a single trip.
Set up a bird bath (or two) in a space that is close to their selection of feeders. To ensure that the water is always clean and free from diseases that are spread through contaminated water, you should completely empty and refill your bird bath daily, and take the time to scrub and clean them on a regular basis. During the winter months, install a bird bath heater to prevent the water from freezing. This will provide them with accessible, clean water all year long, which they may struggle to find elsewhere.
If you still find the birds aren’t as enticed by your bird bath, consider creating a mini fountain with a small, submersible fountain pump. Birds are attracted to moving water, as stagnant water is often unclean and unhealthy. By adding a small fountain element, you will attract even more birds to enjoy the space.
Step Four: Plant a Bird-Friendly Garden
During the spring and summer months, in particular, a garden full of brightly colored bird-friendly plants is a great way to naturally bring more birds to the area. If you know the type of birds that you are trying to attract, you can choose flowers, trees, and shrubs that attract them specifically. For example, robins love both the fruit and nectar available from the honeysuckle while the daylily is more attractive to hummingbirds. This can be anything from a small garden to attract a specific species of bird to a full corner set up incorporating bird-friendly plants, feeders, and birdbaths for the full effect.
Step Five: Provide Nesting Opportunities
One way that you can encourage more birds to spend time in your yard is to provide the right opportunities for them to set up a home base in the area. During the warmer spring months, fill an old suet cage with a variety of nesting options including dried weeds, grass clippings, and other organic matter. This will make it easier for birds to find the materials necessary to build their nests, encouraging them to do so without going far from your space. When the weather drops, birdhouses can provide much-needed shelter for winter birds. Be sure to put out some birdhouses (or nesting boxes) with smaller openings to offer a safe place for smaller birds in the area.
Step Six: Be Observant
After you have everything set up, sit back, and observe the actions of the birds that do come to your yard. If you notice that no one has been eating from a specific feeder, go back to the previous steps and reassess your setup. Is it too out in the open? Is there too much noise and activity in the area? Do you need to change the food that you are offering? On the other hand, you may notice another feeder is always busy to the point that it may be too much for some birds, preventing them from hanging around. Replicate that feeder in another nearby area of the yard to make that an accessible option for a larger number of birds at any given time. You’ll be surprised by how much guidance your feathered friends can actually give you for improving their backyard oasis!
Transform Your Backyard into A Bird-Friendly Oasis
By offering everything that your local birds could desire in one central location, you will create a true oasis for your backyard birds. As bird lovers, this is not only an opportunity to enjoy the presence of our friends, allowing us to take in the beauty of nature at work just outside our back window, but it’s also a great way to support your local ecosystem and bird population.
If you are fully invested and committed to making your backyard the best greenspace and bird-friendly getaway that you can, consider reading through the requirements to be designated a Certified Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation.
Whatever you decide, know that you are making a difference for the birds in your local area. So, grab your camera and document your sightings or simply relax and take it all in. There is nothing as peaceful as nature at work.