Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Inviting Winged Guests to Your Garden: Attracting Birds

I was never much of a bird watcher and didn’t fully appreciate those who would walk around with binoculars and field guides to catch a glimpse of the feathered kind.  Then one day, I hung a bird feeder in the backyard.  This brought all sorts of local birds to our backyard.  Soon, I added one to the front yard that could be seen from the window.  The kids enjoyed seeing who came to visit also.  However, with different bird seed, we saw the arrival of birds we did not know.  Thanks to the internet birdfinder sites, we have been able to identify the guests to our yard…including one that is native to the West Coast!  Although I do not own a set of binoculars or know any bird calls, I am curious about the birds that come to visit. 

To increase the chances of birds picking your yard for a visit, consider the following ways to lure them in. 

1.  Birds need a place to rest.  Whether this is a well placed bush or a bird house, they need a spot to build a nest.  A tree that is barren of leaves in the spring will not be suitable for laying eggs.  An arborvitae or other type of bush will soon find a nest in its branches.  A birdhouse will do for the smaller types.
2.  Birds need food.  Pick a birdfeeder that will either be squirrel-proof, or place it in an area that is hard to reach.  If you hang it from a tree, squirrels will pick it clean.  I’ve found that hanging a feeder from a tall shepard’s hook is impossible for a squirrel to scale and they give up and settle for the scraps that fall to the ground.
3.  Birds need water.  Although I’m not fond of birdbaths, because of the inevitable mosquito fest that will follow, this will obviously draw birds to your yard for a bath or drink.  A birdbath will provide a bird a splash, and adds beauty to your gardens with some “garden art”.  

After you’ve attracted the birds to your gardens, check out http://whatbird.com  and find out where your friends call home.  It might be a lot farther than your neighbor’s yard!

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