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.
The next step is shelter. Birds need cover in the landscape to protect them from predators and inclement weather.Â Choosing the correct landscaping plants can provide food, shelter and a nesting site,Â 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.
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.
Evergreens play a very important role throughout the year. In the summer they provide shelter for nesting, and cover from predators.Â 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.
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.
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!