Yesterday, you learned how birds can uniquely enhance an outdoor living space. Like any good landlord, to get tenants, you need to advertise that there are vacancies. Unfortunately, you’ll need to do a little more than put a For Rent sign on your bird feeder. When attracting birds to your garden or yard, you should focus on providing them with fundamental needs like water, food, and shelter.

Know your birds.The first step in turning your yard into an avian haven is to learn about the birds that live in or travel through your area. Different birds have different needs and preferences, so it’s important to know what kind of environment will appeal to them. Depending on the types of birds in the area, the appropriate food and foliage may vary. For example, it would be an unfortunate waste to create a yard perfect for sparrows if there weren’t any within a hundred miles.

bird drinking waterQuench their thirst. Proximity to fresh water is essential for a desirable habitat. It’s best for the water to be flowing, as the sound of dripping or bubbling water will attract more birds. A water feature like a birdbath or fountain provides birds with a place to bathe and drink—a boon on hot summer days—and having ready access to water will make them more likely to take up residence nearby or to make your yard a regular stop on their seasonal migratory routes.

Feed the flock. Feeding birds no doubt brings to mind birdseed, and while it’s true that it is a reliable go-to, birds’ diets are diverse and can also include fruits and insects. A variety of food sources will help attract a wider array of birds. Old tree stumps, fallen branches, and brush piles are all things you can use to create favorable conditions for a healthy insect ecosystem or, as birds might see it, an all-you-can-eat buffet.

bird nest in shape of a houseGive them a home. Shelter is another main component for making your yard bird-friendly. Birdhouses are a good start but are unlikely to attract a wide range of birds by themselves. Including small piles of materials like twigs or dead leaves that birds can use to construct nests is a great idea. Nest boxes will provide shelter for birds during the colder months and are great places for them to raise their young. Underbrush and dense foliage provide birds with safe places to survey the area for predators or to await their turn at the bird feeder. By incorporating bird-friendly landscaping, you’ll be able to attract more birds. Birds are not so different from humans when judging where to live—ultimately, it’s about finding a safe place to raise a family.

Keep them safe. According to the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), up to one billion birds are killed by window collisions annually in the United States alone. They see the reflection of vegetation in the window and fly directly toward it. Place feeders within a few feet of windows to reduce the chance of high-speed collision; they may still hit, but at a survivable speed. Also restrict the usage of insecticides; they pose serious threats to birds and their eggs. Fortunately, the presence of birds helps reduce the need for these potentially harmful chemicals. The NWF also states that cats are responsible for killing hundreds of millions of birds each year, so keep them indoors; it’s not only safer for birds but for the cats as well. Cats and other predators often hide in brush or shrubs, so placing feeders far enough away can give birds a chance to react and escape.

Attracting birds to your garden or yard is not an all-or-nothing project. You can start as small or as large as you like, perhaps beginning by simply adding a bird feeder and then expanding upon that as you are able to invest more time and resources.

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