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Bird Gardening Ideas

Updated on March 6, 2014

Pest Control in the Alpaca Pen

The small black spots behind the alpaca are what I believe to be Starlings; they are constant occupants of the pen, feeding on the bugs that are ever-present in the dung piles.
The small black spots behind the alpaca are what I believe to be Starlings; they are constant occupants of the pen, feeding on the bugs that are ever-present in the dung piles. | Source

Why Attract Birds?

Birds are a vital part of a healthy garden. They keep the pest population under control so you, the gardener, do not have to use pesticides. There are times when there is a "bug explosion", but keeping birds interested in returning to and staying in your garden is the best way to deal with the bugs.

In the photo on the right, the birds are always in the alpaca pen. There is a row of spruce trees on either side of the pen so they have a safe refuge in any event one of our cats decides to try to have a bird for lunch. Without the birds present, the insect population in the alpaca pen (and our garden) would be unbearable.


Hummingbird Feeder

This Hummingbird feeder hangs less than six feet from our deck. The lilacs in the background provide nectar for the Hummingbirds as well when in bloom.
This Hummingbird feeder hangs less than six feet from our deck. The lilacs in the background provide nectar for the Hummingbirds as well when in bloom. | Source
A
Our Old Place:
Alberta, Canada

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The photos in this Hub were taken at our old place.

What types of birds are beneficial?

For those who live in the country, chickens are one of the best birds for bug control. Plus they aerate and fertilize your soil, which makes the garden healthier. A healthy garden is less susceptible to bug infestations.

If you cannot have or don't want chickens, there are other birds that will help your garden as well. Also note that if you do have chickens, other birds should also be encouraged to visit your garden as well.

The following is a list of birds we have in our area (Northeastern Alberta). This is not the entire list; just those that I have personally seen:

  • Great Horned Owl
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  • Robin
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Hairy Woodpecker
  • Barn Swallow
  • Starling
  • Blue Jay
  • Crow
  • Raven
  • Red-winged Blackbird
  • Hawk
  • Sparrow
  • Barn Swallow
  • Chickadee
  • Cedar Waxwing
  • Magpie
  • Finch

Note: the above list covers birds that have been seen during various times of the year, but does not include any waterfowl that we also have residing in a pond on our property (pictured below).



Sundial Bird Feeder

This feeder is only a few feet away from the Virginia Creeper.
This feeder is only a few feet away from the Virginia Creeper. | Source

Dandelion

The seeds from a dandelion are a food source for many birds.
The seeds from a dandelion are a food source for many birds. | Source

What will they eat?

One of the most important things to do is to encourage the birds to stay in your garden year round (many do not migrate). If they have a source of food during the winter, they will also stay during the summer. Those that migrate will tend to come back to the place they were the previous year if they were fed, watered and housed.

A variety of fruits (cherries, strawberries, raspberries), acorns, grass seeds, flower seeds (annuals and perennials), tree seeds, insects, invertebrates (earthworms and caterpillars), flies, aphids, mosquitoes and larvae are just a few of the things you can provide as a food source. in the cases of the insects, it is not something most people have control over.

In addition to the natural foods available, it is sometimes necessary to supplement the diets of birds, especially during the cold winter months and early spring before the bugs and seeds are readily available.

Note: When attracting birds to your garden, avoid the use of herbicides and pesticides; the chemical residue will kill the birds.

Bird's Nest Under the Eaves

It isn't very clear in the picture, but there was a baby sparrow poking its head over the edge of the nest.
It isn't very clear in the picture, but there was a baby sparrow poking its head over the edge of the nest. | Source

A Safe Refuge

Our Virginia Creeper provides both a food source and a safe refuge for the smaller birds should our cats decide to pounce.
Our Virginia Creeper provides both a food source and a safe refuge for the smaller birds should our cats decide to pounce. | Source

Where will they live?

Providing shelter is another must for anyone who wishes for birds to stay in the garden. The shelter can be evergreens, leafy vines, or birdhouses.

In the picture to the right, the sparrows made a nest under the eaves of our house. I'm sure they did it just to tease the dogs, as their houses are below the spot the birds chose. Hopefully the babies don't fall out or the dogs will have a snack.

Providing shelter from the elements and any predators is also a must. My Virginia Creeper is a safe spot for the birds to escape to in any event of a cat or dog trying to catch them while they eat from the feeder or have a quick drink and bath. The vine also provides a diet of bugs, nectar and seeds (in the fall).

The trellis the vine is on also provides a good vantage point for the birds. From there they can watch out for the cats, plus watch the grass and garden beds for signs of their next meal.

A Natural Water Feature

Ducks, geese and other aquatic life make this part of our property home. It also provides food such as frogs, mosquito larvae and seeds for a variety of birds.
Ducks, geese and other aquatic life make this part of our property home. It also provides food such as frogs, mosquito larvae and seeds for a variety of birds. | Source

What about water?

Providing a fresh, constant supply of water will help attract a variety of birds to your garden. Something as simple as a birdbath or as complex as a pond with streams, pools and waterfalls are beneficial in attracting avian life.

Birds prefer a shallow spot to drink and bathe, so even something as simple as a shallow pan will suffice. A pie plate does in a pinch if you do not yet have a commercial birdbath; it provides a rim to perch on and a place to drink and bathe. Another source of water is a tap dripping into a shallow container; it will provide fresh water and the dripping sound will attract the birds.

If you are fortunate like we are, a natural water source is a great way to enjoy both birds that make trees and land their homes as well as those that reside in or near the water.

Bird Poll

How many different types of birds have you seen in your garden?

See results

Any Disadvantages?

Attracting birds and encouraging them to stay in your garden comes with a huge list of advantages, as the capsules above state. The only real disadvantage I can see is your garden furniture and ornaments getting "painted".

The "paint" is washed off fairly easily and does its part in fertilizing the soil, so in actual fact (okay, my opinion) there aren't any disadvantages to having several species of birds in your garden.

Information Source

An Illustrated Guide to Attracting Birds by Sunset Publishing Corp.

Comments

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    • brsmom68 profile imageAUTHOR

      Diane Ziomek 

      4 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      Thank you viking305. We moved in the fall, so I am anxious to see which birds will be visiting us this spring and summer. :)

    • viking305 profile image

      L M Reid 

      4 years ago from Ireland

      Very interesting article. I love to see the birds in my garden as they are a sign of nature at its best

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