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6 Ways to Attract Birds to your Garden

6 Ways to Attract Birds to your Garden

Grow Plants That Attract Birds

Birds feed on seed, berries, fruit, nuts, and insects. The first 3 can be naturally provided by plant material in your own garden. Plants that attract birds range in size.

  • Trees – like Mountain Ash, Shubert Chokecherry, Birch, Crab Apple, and Hawthorn.
  • Smaller Shrubs – such as Serviceberry, Highbush Cranberry, Quince, female Winterberry, Pagoda and Gray Dogwood, Russian Olive, Honeysuckle, Elder, and Sumac.
  • Vines – like Boston Ivy, Virginia Creeper, Wild Grape, and American Bittersweet.
  • Annuals – like Sunflowers, Cosmos, Zinnias, Marigolds, and Celosia.
  • Perennials – such as Globe Thistle, Black-eyed Susan, Asters, and Ornamental Grasses in the winter garden are valuable seed sources during a long, cold winter.
  • Berries of Fairview, Iowa, and Spartan Juniper, female Holly, Oregon Grape, and Wintergreen.

Certain birds love Sweet Cherries and Blueberries so be prepared to cover your fruit with black netting if you hope to harvest any for yourself.


Use Bird Feeders

In addition to having plants in your garden that naturally produce food for the birds, you can also provide a constant supply of seed and nuts in bird feeders. There are many styles and sizes of bird feeders to choose from.

  • Wood Feeders
  • Plastic Feeders
  • Hanging Feeders
  • Pole Mounted Feeders
  • Squirrel Proof Feeders

Bigger birds like Blue Jays and Cardinals simply won’t land on a small feeder. Tubular feeders come with small perches and large or tiny seed openings from which the seed is dispensed. Sunflower seed and wild birdseed mixtures can be used in the former type while Niger seed fills the latter tube. There is also a tubular feeder called an “Upside Down Feeder” that is for Goldfinches only. These are the only birds that will land on a perch and flip upside down to feed from the small opening directly below.

hummingbird and feeder

Serve the Right Birdseed

Feed the birds year-round, not just in winter, so you can enjoy the beauty of summer visitors too. Don’t worry about the birdseed that falls on the ground unless it germinates. Mourning Doves and Juncos love to clean up the leftovers.

  • Sunflower Seed – is available in two forms: striped and black striped. These types will attract all birds while the black is a particular favourite of Blue Jays, Cardinals, and Chickadees.
  • Wild Finch mixture and Niger Seed – are sold in smaller quantities to specifically attract Finches.
  • Suet Cakes – an important food source to many birds in winter especially Chickadees, Woodpeckers, and Nuthatches. You can purchase a suet cage that fits a suet cake perfectly if you don’t already have one built onto your feeder.

Provide Water

  • Birds need water to survive as much as they need a food source.
  • If you aren’t near a natural body of water, you can provide it in a birdbath, shallow dish, fountain, or small water garden in partial shade. Not only will birds drink the water but they also like to bathe in it and cool off in hot weather.
  • Change the water frequently so harmful bacteria does not build up.
  • Don’t forget to put out fresh water each day or invest in a birdbath heater for the winter to prevent the water from freezing.

Offer Shelter

Feeding stations left out in the open most likely will not attract birds as this draws attention from hawks and cats. Birds need to be able to escape quickly to nearby trees, evergreens and shrubs to hide. The dense foliage of Spruce, Pine, Fir, Larch, and Hemlock also provides ideal nesting sites as well as winter shelter.

red and green bird houses

Set up Birdhouses

While all the plant material listed thus far can be a food source as well as a shelter and nesting site, you can also purchase birdhouses for specific birds.

  • Birdhouses vary in size especially in the diameter of the hole so other birds can’t get in to raid a nest of eggs.
  • Place a birdhouse in the shelter of a tree, away from predators, and facing away from prevailing winds and precipitation.
  • Purple Martins, the largest member of the Swallow family, like to live together in groups. Martin houses are available and are designed for their special needs. They are mounted on a pole and require thorough cleaning each year before a new colony will take up residence. Purple Martins are highly prized because their primary food source is mosquitoes.