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How to Attract Birds to Your Backyard

Updated on April 22, 2016

Bluebird

Male Bluebird perched on plant stand.
Male Bluebird perched on plant stand. | Source

Attracting Birds

Most of us love to watch out little feather friends. Watching the birds that come to my house seems to help start my day off with a cheerful attitude. Bird photography is one of my favorite hobbies and is becoming more and more popular. Most of us enjoy watching birds and if you would like to attract more birds to you backyard here are a few helpful ideas. Birds are looking for 3 things, food, water and shelter. By providing these 3 things in a variety, you will attract a larger variety of birds to your backyard.

Cardinal

Male Cardinal
Male Cardinal | Source

Bird Food

Depending on the type of birds you want to attract as to what type of food you want to put out for them. If you want to attract a wider variety of birds, put out a wider variety of foods for them.

  • Black Oil Sunflower seeds are usually the best for attracting song birds to your yard. Birds such as cardinals, chickadees, finches and many other songbirds love sunflower seeds.

Mockingbird

Mockingbirds are fun to watch.
Mockingbirds are fun to watch. | Source
  • Suet is great for woodpeckers, nuthatches, jays, mockingbirds, grosbeaks, buntings and more.
  • Meal worms are becoming more and more popular amoung bird lovers. Meal worms are an excellent source of nutrition for your birds. More and more people are discovering what a large variety of birds love meal worms.

Tufted Titmouse

These little guys love peanut butter!
These little guys love peanut butter! | Source


  • Nuts - Blue Jays, titmice and nuthatches love peanuts. Add a separate feeder with some peanuts, shelled or unshelled, but not salted, to your yard. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich placed on a saucer type feeder seems to be a huge hit with many birds!
  • Fruit - Many birds love to eat fruit. Berries, raisins or small pieces of apples are great to attract orioles, robins and waxings.

Hummingbird

Hummingbird in flight.
Hummingbird in flight. | Source
  • Nectar - Bring hummingbirds to your yard with a hummingbird feeder. You don’t need to buy the pre-mixed nectar, make your own. Sugar water is all you need, it doesn’t even have to be red. Before you know it, you will have hummingbirds fighting over a place on your feeder.


  • Bread and Pasta - Most birds love to eat bread. Use some of your old bread instead of throwing it away. Place a platform or saucer bird feeder with bread crumbs in it or some left over cooked pasta and watch the birds flock to it. I would recommend plain pasta, without any type of seasonings. The bread and pasta will attract a large variety of birds.

Bird Feeders

Try different types of birdfeeders. The tube style feeders are great for bird seed and will attract a variety of smaller birds. Think about adding a larger platform or saucer type bird feeder for nuts, fruit and bread types of food. The larger birds will have an easier time feeding on a larger bird feeder. The birds are going to want some type of shelter or cover nearby so place your feeder near trees or bushes.

Water

Not all birds are attracted to bird feeders. The insect eating birds, such as bluebirds are more than likely not going to eat from your feeders, but they do need water. A bird bath is an excellent way to attract birds to your yard. Keep fresh water in your bird bath. Wouldn’t you prefer fresh water to old, stagnant water? If you want to keep birds coming to your yard in the winter, be sure to not let your water in your bird bath stay frozen. Pour some hot water over the ice or some bird baths now come with small heaters in them. The sound of moving water is like a magnet to birds. A re-cirulating water source will not only attract birds to your yard but may also keep the water from freezing in winter. You may also find that your bird bath is becoming over crowded with birds. Place another bird bath in a different location and you will attract more birds.

Shrubs

Waxwing eating berries.
Waxwing eating berries. | Source

Shelter

All birds need to feel safe from the elements as well as predators and will look for shelter. Keeping your bird feeders and bird baths close to trees or shrubbery will help bring even the shiest birds into your yard. Choose trees or shrubs that have nuts or berries. This will not only give them shelter, but will be an additional source of food for them. Adding evergreen trees or shrubs will give shelter to birds in the winter. Add some bird houses to your landscape. Many birds such as blue birds and finches will use bird houses. Check the size of the entrance hole to be sure it is large enough for the type of birds you want to attract to it. Use several different types and sizes to attract a different variety of birds. Remember, the birds need to feel safe and secure and out of bad weather, so you want to have the bird house in a sheltered location. Don’t put it out in the middle of nowhere and expect to have any tenants.

Have Nesting Material Handy

House sparrow gathering nesting material.
House sparrow gathering nesting material.

Nesting Materials

Keep good nesting material handy for your birds. Lay out a little dryer lint or some cotton balls. Pet hair is actually another great nesting material. When you clean out your dog’s brush, lay the hair outside where the birds can find it. Making it easy for the birds to find nesting materials will bring more birds to your yard. It’s also a good idea to clean out your nesting boxes or bird houses in later winter. Remove any mold or accumulation of seed hulls. This will not only make the bird house more appealing but also make it healthier for our feathered friends.

How do you attract birds to your yard?

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© 2013 Sheila Brown

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