What A Bird Wants: (Part 2) Landscaping is for the Birds

If feeding your birds is a rewarding hobby for you, than you may just want to expand your sites to a luxurious backyard bird spa and retreat! Ok, thats pushing it a bit, but together with the correct combination of shelter, food, and water you can attract and keep your favorite species year-round (unless, of course, they are migratory).

The first step to attracting birds is food. Read part one of this blog to help you choose which seeds will work best for you.

It is important for birds to have a source of water in the winter. If you do not live near a flowing water source, it is recommended that a source be artificially made. A bird-bath heater, or product such as a “water-wiggler” will keep an open source available for the birds in the coldest temperatures. Place your birdbaths under cover, and near a food source if possible.

A water heater is a great investment for your winter birdbath. Water is essential for birds in the winter. Without it they may look elsewhere for a source and food.

The next step is shelter. Birds need cover in the landscape to protect them from predators and inclement weather.  Choosing the correct landscaping plants can provide food, shelter and a nesting site,  all in one plant. Keep in mind that birds nest from the ground up, so it is important to have layered plants in the yard.

Shrubs, bramble fruits and small trees such as Chokecherry, Honeysuckle, Raspberry, Serviceberry, Sand cherry, Blackberry, Blueberry, Mulberry, Plum, and Elderberry provide summer fruits May-August. These are perfect for birds such as Brown thrashers, Catbirds, Robins, Thrushes, Waxwings, Woodpeckers, Orioles, Cardinals, Towhees, and Grosbeaks.

Consider planting bramble fruits in your yard. They are a great treat for both you and the birds!
 Consider planting vines near a dead tree where they will become shelter and a possible food source. Beta and riverbank grapes are a favorite of many birds.

Fall fruiting trees provide ample energy for migrating birds, and non-migrating birds who need to be in top physical health for the upcoming winter months. Fall-fruiting plants include Dogwoods, Mountain ash, Winterberries and Buffalo-berries.

Mountain Ash trees provide fruit well into the winter. They are a favorite of birds such as the Cedar Waxwing shown here.
 Winter fruiting trees provide fruit that is frozen and can be used through the winter months. These include Chokecherry, Crabapple, Snowberry, Bittersweet, Sumacs, American Highbush Cranberry, and Virginia creeper.

Evergreens play a very important role throughout the year. In the summer they provide shelter for nesting, and cover from predators.  Important evergreens to use your yard include the Eastern white pine (used by over 48 spp. of birds!), Balsam fir, Eastern red cedar, spruces and the Eastern hemlock. Consider using evergreens at the corners of your yard to provide wind shelter and cover.

Evergreens are important year-round for shelter and nesting sites.
 Nut and Acorn producers are an important source of food for  woodpeckers, nuthatches and Blue Jays. You can often see these birds foraging for insects in their bark. Many other birds benefit from scraps left by foraging squirrels and small mammals. The meats of broken nuts and acorns are eaten by a variety of birds, that will also eat any insects that have boroughed in them. These trees include, but are not limited to Oaks, Hickories, Buckeyes, Chestnuts, Butternuts, Walnuts, and Hazels.  These plants also provide good nesting habitat for many species.

Grasses play an import role in your landscape for birds. In the winter they provide excellent cover, and many produce seeds. Grasses should be used near forest openings and around evergreens and yards edge. In the summer they provide cover for ground-nesting birds and their young.

Perennial grasses are important cover for ground-nesting birds and their young.
 Hummingbirds are often sought after in the summer garden. Flowers that are bright and have a tubular shape are a sure attraction to these small birds. Planting Hostas, Coral Bells, Columbine, Petunias, Foxglove, Fushias, Cardinal flowers, and Trumpet vines will be sure to attract them.

Orioles are another well sought-after bird in the yard. You can attract them by planting Hollyhock, Trumpet vines, Daylilies and Cherry, Plum, Apricot and Almond trees.

Together, with providing the right combination of trees and shrubs for shelter and food, you will find your yard to be a oasis for the birds!

Providing the correct amount of cover and food will keep birds in your yard year-round!
Happy Birding!