Animals, Backyard Habitats, birds, conservation, Gardening, The Art of Ecology

Creating a Safe Haven for Feathered Friends

So far, we’ve discussed creating a backyard habitat, attracting butterflies and other pollinators, and creating a haven for snakes and beneficial predators, but we haven’t talked about how to get birds to your garden! Aside from the obvious of sticking up a feeder, there are some other great ways to attract your feathered friends!

By 2050, it is estimated that 2/3 of wildlife species will be extinct. 1/3 of all birds are estimated to disappear. Creating a safe haven for them now will provide critical habitats for these species and caring for birds impacts the rest of the food web – helping to ensure healthy and safe ecosystems. Make sure that you have some important elements, like Food, Water, Protection, and Nesting Sites in your yard or garden. If you have these ingredients, it’s a sure recipe to getting birds to visit and even make a home – helping keep their populations stable!

Food: Birds like to eat a variety of things, not just seeds! Some birds, like Chickadees, Bluebirds, and Woodpeckers absolutely LOVE insects. Insects provide birds with a valuable source of protein, calcium, and other minerals. The easiest way to make sure that there are insects around is by getting suet with meal worms in it. The absolute best way to get them though, is by planting flowers, trees, and shrubs that insects like beetles, worms, caterpillars, and other creepy crawlers like to eat and find shelter in.

Other birds, like Orioles, Flickers, Finches, Waxwings, and Tanagers love to munch on yummy fruit! Fruits are jam packed with delicious vitamins and sugars. The easiest way to provide them with fruit, is by getting a suet with fruits in it. You can also create garlands of dried fruits like cranberries, raisins, cherries, orange slices, and others. You can also set out watermelon rinds, orange and grapefruit slices, and apple slices. These fruits will also attract butterflies that come to suck up the juices from these yummy treats!

The best way to get birds fruits is simply by growing them yourself! Cherry, Mullberry, Dogwood, Holly, Serviceberry, and Crabapple Trees are perfect for birds! These plants will not only provide birds with wonderful food sources, but will also provide them with shelter. Plants like Raspberry, Blackberry, Elderberry, and Blueberry bushes will have nice late season foods for the birds and also provide thicket areas for creating nests and providing shelter.

Are you looking to attract a certain kind of bird to your yard more than others? Knowing the right combination of trees, plants, and nesting sites will ensure that those birds take full advantage of your backyard haven! Those trees and shrubs have different ripening times and different birds will be in your area at different times of the year. Make sure that your food source matches up with the time of year that birds are settling down near you. For example, my favorite local bird is the American Goldfinch – by planting Sunflowers, I know that I will have excellent seed sources available for them in the summer months when they hang around me the most.

Nesting habitat is so important for birds to be able to safely raise their young! Don’t feel like you have enough shrubby, dense thickets or old trees? Add a nest box to your yard!

By planting trees, creating thickets, and having dense shrubby areas, you are also providing nesting habitat and shelter for birds! Did you know that bird feeders are some of the least safe spaces for songbirds? Hawks and other predatory birds recognize patterns and will sit atop trees nearby, swooping down to catch birds sitting in the open at a feeder. Cats that are allowed outside use the feeder area as a perfect little hunting ground. While having feeders set up is a great thing to provide for the birds, you always want to make sure that you are providing a safe place for birds to retreat to after they’ve gotten their snack!

Looking for plants for your home and not quite sure what to use? By inputting your zip code in the National Audubon Society’s Native Plant Finder, you can figure out which plants are native to your specific area and what birds those plants will attract! It will also tell you what other animals it might benefit and what pollinates them.

Not everyone has a wonderful creek or pond in their backyard, so bird baths are something to consider adding to your landscape. Just keep in mind that bird baths are another place that Hawks can watch over. While the baths are a great addition to the yard (and you can even acquire heaters for them so that birds can enjoy water even in the freezing winter months!), you always want to make sure that if you only have a bird bath as a water source, that you also provide nearby shelter.

Wish you had more birds in your home? Check out my shop and snag yourself some great bird prints, photo gifts and more! Remember, a portion of all proceeds benefits wildlife conservation efforts, so your purchase goes far and makes a contribution to the health of the planet.

This wintering chickadee enjoys a seed from a feeder. During the summer though, their diets are comprised of 90% insect life which gives them great protein!

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