I enjoy seeing birds flitting around outside, making themselves known with little chitters and chirps. I also like sharing my garden spot with them. Whether you’re an avid birder or simply want to attract more of the feathery little joy-bringers to your garden, you might like the idea of creating a garden specifically for the birds. Here are some aspects to consider when making garden for the birds…
A variety of birds will frequent a garden. Not all birds eat the same types of food though. There are seed-eaters, bug-eaters, and nectar-sippers. It’s best to use native plants and trees to attract local birds. Create an area with an array of seed producing plants; Sunflowers, Wild Grape, Service Berry, Northern Bayberry (has food in winter too), Crab Apple (also good tree for nest sites), Mulberries.
As for the hummingbirds, they like Honeysuckle, Black Locust, Trumpet Vine, Columbine, and just about any tubular flower, especially red ones. You can always hang a hummingbird feeder up for them as well. I hang a couple in different places. There’s always a bossy Hummer chasing others off of one feeder and I want to make sure everyone has something to eat.
Bug-eaters will find plenty of bugs by flying around trees and plants where small bugs hang out. I’ve also caught a few nibbling the free “snacks” that pile up under the bug zapper near the front porch!
Plants that offer food during the winter are often trees or shrubs, but a few are vines. Some winter-food sources include; Red Cedar, Spruce, Staghorn Sumac, Virginia Creeper (small blue berries from August to February), Mountain Ash, Chokecherry, Crabapple, Barberry, Bittersweet, Highbush Cranberry, and Chinaberry, Dogwood.
I’ve also noticed a lot of bird activity in the areas where I’ve let the weeds grow and go to seed. Cardinals, Juncos, and Titmice flocked to these weedy locations and had a hayday picking at the top of each seed-filled stalk.
You can offer different sources of water for drinking and bathing purposes. A bird bath, bucket, bowl with a rock or two in it will do, birds aren’t too picky. I saw one the other day getting a drink out of a drippy faucet on the side of my neighbor’s house. Smart bird!
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Building a bird house can be as easy as buying a pre-made one at the local hardware store or crafting one out of bits of wood yourself. You can build birdhouses from kits, use gourds, old tea pots, random things from around the house or make specific houses. Bird-specific houses can help you attract certain species to your garden area. Bluebirds like houses with a small entrance hole and a large roof for extra protection. You’ve probably seen some of them attached to fence posts along a field.
Purple Martins like to nest in colonies, so building a bunch of bird houses out of gourds and hanging them all together might attract some Purple Martins to your garden site. Wrens are attracted to houses with an opening that measures 1 ¼ “ in diameter. However, some birds will make their own nest site, no matter what options you give them.
Supplying some nesting materials can be helpful too. This includes many things: dryer lint, peat moss, bits of string, hair from your hairbrush or the dog brush, dry grass, etc. Anything soft and light enough for a bird to carry will often be used. There are types of trees many birds like to nest in as well. Some of these are Oaks, Hickories, Chestnuts, Buckeyes, Walnuts, Butternuts, Hazels, and pines.
Birds have the same needs as we humans do; food, water, shelter, a place to safely raise kids. I don’t know about you, but I’m more apt to live in a place where I can find everything I need without having to travel a long distance to find it. Being able to make a space where birds can find everything they need and I can enjoy relaxing in a beautiful, quiet place at the same time sounds like an excellent idea to me!
What ideas do you have for your Bird Garden?