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    Creating a Bird-Friendly Yard

    Courtesy of Global Harvest Foods

    To attract wild birds to your yard, you’ll want to offer plenty of places for them to eat and rest. Creating a permanent habitat will bring them back year after year, so here’s how you can transform your yard into a safe and appealing wild bird retreat.

    Bird Friendly Yard

    Shelter and Cover

    Wild birds look for shade, cover, and shelter. Evergreens, like pine and fir trees, with low-hanging branches and foliage, offer insulation for birds—even in winter. Audubon’s native plant database is a helpful resource for finding plants that are native to your geographic area and appealing to wild birds, like Black-eyed Susan in Tennessee or American Beauty-Berry in Texas. Wild birds love a brush pile. If space allows, combine sticks, twigs and branches near a feeding station. Avoid leaves and grass clippings as they could clog bird entrances.

    A variety of trees, shrubs, and flowers, planted in groups of three, five, or seven, at different heights, creates a dense area of foliage that makes birds feel safe and looks lush and appealing to humans, too!  

    It is estimated that domestic cats kill millions of birds every year. Please keep cats indoors, place feeders at least five feet from the ground, and consider adding thorny branches to your landscape to deter predators and protect birds. 

    You can also provide shelter for nesting birds in the form of bird houses, which invite many insect-eating birds, such as bluebirds, wrens, purple martins, swallows, flycatchers, and swifts to gobble up insects in your garden.

    Bird Food

    Food

    Not all birds eat bird seed. To attract a wide variety of birds to your backyard, offer a little something for everyone. Nectar for the hummingbirds. Suet for the woodpeckers. Mealworms for the bluebirds. Seeds for the finches. Check out Project FeederWatch, a crowd-sourced database of frequent bird feeder visitors around North America, to find out which birds frequent feeders in your area.

    Window strikes are responsible for the death of millions of birds each year. Window strikes can be reduced by placing feeders within three feet of a window or more than 30 feet away.” -fws.gov

    Native plants, particularly those that flower and bear fruit at different times of year, make it easy for birds to find food in your yard year-round. Dogwoods offer berries in the late summer and early fall, and hollies and crabapple trees provide food for birds in the winter. Supplementing birds’ food supply with bird feeders is a sure way to have avian visitors year-round.

    Remember to clean feeders regularly and keep bird food dry at all times.

    Water

    Providing a source of clean water in your yard, via a bird bath, fountain, or mister/dripper, can attract rare & colorful species that don’t regularly visit feeders, like tanagers and warblers. 

    Chemicals

    If you’re considering using pesticides or fertilizers outdoors, we recommend all-natural options, like cornmeal gluten to control weeds in your lawn and garden (especially directly under feeders!).

    Get Certified

    Once you’ve created a bird habitat you’re proud of, you can get your yard certified as a backyard wildlife habitat.

    Short on Space?

    Live in an apartment or a condo? Try a hummingbird or window feeder (no-waste blends work well on balconies and patios)! You’ll be surprised at how many birds visit you. Just be sure, if you have lots of glass, to break up the reflection with flash tape, bird netting, non-reflective window coating, or screens. Many birds can’t tell the difference between the real sky and its reflection in a window.