Attracting birds in your garden/yard

There are many benefits of having birds in your garden.  The most obvious being the songs they sing in the morning and throughout the day. Now if you are not a morning person this may be a negative, but there are definitely more obtrusive ways to be woken up.

Birds can directly help your garden by eating weed seeds they find throughout your lawn and garden. Like singing, this can be a blessing and a frustration due to the fact they have not learned the difference between those peas you carefully planted and the weed seeds that you really want them to be consuming. Given that I take care of my weeds organically I can definitely appreciate the help of the birds.

Birds also like to snack on insects, like seeds the birds are not indifferent to the pests and the beneficial insects, so they may gobble up some of your spiders, ants, beetles, and worms (ok not an insect) but they are also are nice enough to eat aphids, grubs, Japanese beetles. Some birds such as swallows can eat 100s of bugs in a morning snack.

If you have decided that you want to attract more birds to your garden, what are your options? Like most creatures they have three simple necessities: food, water, and shelter.

Food: Feeding your birds is pretty easy, above I mentioned some of the benefits of the insects and weed seeds that your birds can feast from. There is the obvious bird feeder and given the seeds/food you choose can help determine the species birds you will have visiting. For example most songbirds prefer black oil sunflower seeds, while white millet is preferred by most ground feeding birds. Now of course the more food your birds are eating from your feeders the less pests and weed seeds they are eating from your lawn and garden, but the feeder should attract more birds to your lawn/garden so best to keep those feeders full.

Water: Birds need water to drink but also bathe in, now you can invest in something aesthetically pleasing like this one (click below):

If you are on a budget you can always make your own, basic requirements is needs to be less than 3 inches deep and have a comfortable surface for the birds to perch on. Some ideas are metal garbage can lid, circular planter, or even larger pot drip pan. Simply place on the ground of on top of some shrubbery, rough up the bottom of the surface with some steel wool and water. You will want to clean your bird bath about once a week with a diluted bleach solution (3/4 cup bleach to 1 gal water) since unfortunately the birds may use their bath occasionally as a bathroom.

Shelter: Shelters give animals a place to nest and/or hide from predators. Now there are two types of shelters natural and man-made. If you have some well established trees and/or shrubbery you probably have some birds already living with (whether you know it or not) Like many people I live in a relatively new development (< 5 years old) so most of the trees in my neighborhood are still developing so I opted to supplement with an man-made solution, the classic birdhouse. I couldn’t find the instructions I actually used but here are some free instructions to create a similar birdhouse from a single cedar fence picket. Not sure if you can tell from the picture but everything did not line up exactly as it should but it should keep some birds dry and safe and the girls had a great time “decorating” it.
Whether you just want to attract more birds to hear singing in your backyard or you want to put them to work getting rid of pests and weeds in your lawn and garden doing the steps above should give you plenty of both.

2 Responses to “Attracting birds in your garden/yard”

  1. Robj98168 Says:

    Its easy attracting birds to my house…they move in to the vent openings in the attic, have children and make noise every morning! Oh well a week or so more and they should be gone and I can put the new vent screen up. I don’t mind that much- except when the neighbors dog spots them and being a puppy feels he needs to tell the world!

  2. Chile Says:

    I agree that many birds are great for the garden. But…we have a pesky one here (desert SW) called a “Thrasher”. Said thrasher likes to dig in the garden beds. Nice big holes, while going after tasty bugs. Unfortunately, they manage to dislodge seeds and damage seedlings. Despite setting up a bird bath, they also keep knocking the goof plugs off the drip irrigation to get water where they want it instead of where I want them to drink.Can you suggest a good bird training manual for gardeners? 😉

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