There is nothing more delightful than waking up on a fresh new morning and hearing the joyful calling of all the birds visiting your garden. They may be regular visitors or just passing through but together their busy chatter has the power to lift your day. Just watching the little creatures purposefully going about their lives provides us with a sense of wonder and tranquility.
A family of Northern Cardinals living in my front garden never cease to delight me with their antics. The vivid, red feathered dad looks after his three little brown chicks which have successfully fledged and left the nest. They follow him to learn what is good to eat and they try to beg a feed to see if he will oblige. Sometimes he relents and they get a free meal. Otherwise, they have to learn to forage for themselves.
I will never forget catching sight of them recently as they clustered around my dog’s water bowl out on the patio. The dad was teaching his youngsters how to take a bath. He had them lined up in a row paying attention while he showed them how to fluff up their feathers for a good wash. Then he watched as they dutifully tried it for themselves. I had to pause what I was doing and watch mesmerized as his enthusiastic chicks took turns dunking and fluttering in the water. It’s hard to describe how much that brightened up the rest of my day.
What can you do today that will attract birds to your backyard?
Think of the resources that birds need the most in their environment and work out how you can help. They need access to a reliable source of food and water, shelter from predators and somewhere to make a nest to safely raise their families. For very little effort or cost you can make your garden attractive to a variety of bird species that live in your region, and for migrating birds that pass through your area at various times of the year. Strategies for making your garden bird-friendly include:
- Providing a bird feeder
- Providing a birdbath
- Providing a honey-water drink
- Providing bird nesting boxes
- Keeping your cats inside
- Filling your garden with flowering plants
- Planting trees for shelter and nesting
- Providing nesting material
Making Your Garden Suitable for Birds
Cultivating a backyard that has plenty of trees to shelter birds from predators and somewhere to build nests is a great start. If you do not have many mature trees in your back yard, plant some fast-growing shrubs that grow quickly and become small trees in just a couple of years. Dense branches and plenty of foliage provide excellent shelter for smaller birds and great places for nests, and trees provide valuable food like seeds, flowers and berries or fruit.
Some bird species need hollows in mature trees for nests but if you don’t have the ideal trees for local birds requiring nesting hollows you can install purpose-built wooden nest boxes. Fasten these as high up as you can in the tallest trees on your property and hopefully, they will attract mating couples in the nesting season.
Put out different types of bird feeders and a few birdbaths filled with fresh water around your garden. These will become magnets for a variety of species. Make sure they are well up above the ground and keep your cats inside. Pet stores, produce stores and even supermarkets sell packets of wild bird seed in different sizes (depending on the bird variety) so you can keep your bird feeders filled.
Not All Birds Eat Seeds
As well as establishing more trees and native shrubs in your back yard, you can plant annual and perennial flowering plants in your gardens to attract nectar-drinking birds. Make sure you choose a selection of varieties that flower at different times of the year. Not only will you be visited by species that rely on flowers for a meal but you will enjoy a profusion of flowers beautifying your property all year round. A bonus is that a flourishing flower garden will attract more insects and this provides food for insect-eating birds as well.
Many birds, particularly species like parrots for example, need plenty of fruit in their diet. If you have fruit trees, birds will flock to your back yard but that is only seasonal. To help fruit eaters year-round and keep them coming back, you could regularly chop fruit and place it on bird feeders around your garden.
There is another way to help your little feathered buddies get ahead in life and successfully produce their families. You can provide them with nesting material! One bird watcher I know puts out the fluff she picks up by grooming her cat. The local birds know to look on her verandah rails for the tufts of super-soft fur she puts out and they snatch it up to line their nests. I keep alpacas and their thick coats are shorn each Spring. This creates a bonanza for nesting birds on my property and I love to see them coming back and loading up on more scraps of shorn fleece.
One of the easiest, quickest and most valuable resources you could provide, right now, for birds in your garden is a birdbath. It doesn’t need to be very deep but it should be as high off the ground as you can make it. Not only do the birds gratefully use it as a place to bathe but more importantly it is a year-round source of drinking water.
I live in an area that often suffers prolonged drought. Supplying water for birds is a wonderful bonus for them and ensures that they can stay in your local area. You must be sure to change the water regularly so it doesn’t build up algae and go stagnant. Make sure it is located where it is easily viewed from your house so you can enjoy the show. Watching your birdbath with all its different visitors through the day is so entertaining and relaxing.