Tuesday, June 30, 2015

How can I attract more birds to my yard?

Birds Choice SNFT-200 Recycled Fly-Thru Feeder

Q. How can I attract more birds to my yard? Can you recommend the best bird feeder for that purpose?

A. Since all birds don't eat the same food, I recommend a feeder that presents a diverse menu or several feeders containing different offerings. Bluebirds, for example, primarily eat insects, larvae and small berries. They also may eat suet with peanut butter. Woodpeckers are attracted to suet, fruit, insects. Finches love niger seed. Cardinals go crazy for sunflower seed.

You shouldn't rely on bird feeders alone to attract more feathered friends. You'll do well to improve the habitat around your property.

There are four things good habitat requires:
  • Food
  • Water
  • Shelter
  • Cover
Bird feeders, of course, provide food, but you should also consider landscaping with plants that do so.  Ilex, crabapples, Eastern red cedar, Vaccinium and Viburnum are good fruit sources. Vines such as Campsis provide nectar. Perennials such as Achillea, Asclepius, Coreopsis, Echinacea, Mondarda, Rudbeckia, and Salvia provide seed or nectar.

Bird baths help provide water, but so do rain gardens and shallow ponds. Drippers and misters also attract various species.

Bird houses provide shelter, but so do dense trees and shrubs. Many of the food plants provide shelter. Also consider providing yarn, left-over cotton and linen cloth for nesting material. I've seen birds make off with wads of dog hair left in the yard.

Cover has more to do with providing safe places from predators. Bird houses don't always do it, as anyone who has found a snake in her bluebird house can attest. Again, dense shrubs and trees that are somewhat out of reach provide roosting places. Thorny plants such as roses and blackberry thickets act as deterrents from predation.

So, you can see there are many ways to attract more birds. As a bonus, you will find other wildlife species will also be attracted to the habitat you create.

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