With just the right mix of trees, bushes and flowering plants, an ordinary yard can be transformed into a miniature bird sanctuary. Want to know how?
- Learn your native species. Consult local university websites, agricultural extension offices and other online sources for birds indigenous to your area. Find out what types of plants will attract native birds. Next, research what other accommodations, such as bird houses and bird feeders, might help birds thrive in harsher weather.
- Keep your landscape plants native. Birds native to a geographic area have adapted to the indigenous species of trees, bushes and grasses. This is partly because they are accustomed to nesting and roosting there, but also because native plants attract native insects, which make up 96 percent of a bird’s diet. You might love the look of non-native plants, but the birds won’t. Include lots of trees and bushes, putting more emphasis on these than expanses of lawn that do little for a bird’s welfare.
- Just add water. Provide a reliable supply of water. A simple bird bath, regularly replenished, will reliably attract birds.
- Minimize insecticide usage. Since birds are so dependent on insects for nourishment and feeding their young, minimize the use of insecticides. Use a barrier treatment around the perimeter of your home and on the inside to keep them in the yard, not in your abode.
- Provide a bird buffet. A feeder stocked with native seeds makes your yard a bird sanctuary during times when the natural food supply is scarce. Install on a pole high enough off the ground to deter cats and squirrels. Research what seeds local birds feed upon. To attract hummingbirds, hang a specialized feeder and plant nectar-producing flowers.
- Housing. Bird houses provide a great place for birds to nest. Keep in mind different birds like different house styles so do your research. Dead tree limbs and trunks also provide natural housing for certain types of birds.
- Keep pets at bay. House cats, in particular, may stalk and kill native birds so it’s best to keep felines inside. Call animal control if you suspect a feral cat is killing birds in your neighborhood.