Creating a Bird-Friendly Garden
Many home gardeners wonder how they can attract more birds to their garden. Basically, you need to make sure your yard is bird-friendly and goes beyond just offering a birdbath or bird feeder to our feathered friends. While a bird feeder will encourage birds, landscape with plants that attract them by providing a food and shelter source.
In addition, your garden needs to provide safety and cover for birds. It needs natural food sources like seeds, nectar, and insects, suitable nesting sites, a consistent water source, and areas where birds can find shelter from rain, wind, and cold.
Many native plants provide food in the form of seeds, nuts, or fruits and also provide protective cover. Plants native to the local area will attract wild birds since they provide the food and shelter they are used to. Birds can also help the landscape by distributing these native seeds for future generations. While you don’t have to plant all natives, adding just a few can increase the number and variety of birds to your garden.
Since I am an LA girl, I have a few favorite bird friendly California native plants and grasses that I like to recommend. These include sage (attracts Anna’s and Allen’s hummingbirds), artemisia (attracts Sage Grouse), Manzanita (attracts Blackheaded Grosbeak), bush penstemon (attracts Anna’s and Allen’s hummingbirds), milkweed (attracts Hooded Oriole), yarrow (attracts Goldfinch), buckwheat (attracts Blue Grouse, California Quail and others), and toyon (attracts Western Bluebird).
If you don’t live in California, or you want to find more natives that will thrive in your garden, look for those that have developed naturally in your area and at local botanic gardens. A good resource is a native plant nursery.
Besides natives, if you want to lure songbirds to your backyard, choose annual plants that have an abundance of seeds, like those in the sunflower family. And, all birds will be attracted to an area mixed with annual and perennial wildflowers, low-growing shrubs, and native grasses.
Ideally, you want to provide a diversity of plants that fruit at different times of the year to provide the birds with a continuous food supply. If your goal is to attract a wide range of birds, you also want to be sure to have a good mix of plant sizes, shapes, and foliage textures.
And remember, insects are one of the biggest food sources for birds so the plants you grow become a source of insects for them. In turn, the birds will help keep the insects under control. You will also increase the appeal of the garden for birds by eliminating the use of pesticides and gardening organically.
You will also need to provide some other creature comforts for your feathered friends. Birdbaths with a consistent fresh water supply are a necessity for birds to drink from and bathe in. Providing water throughout the year increases the number and variety of birds that will visit your garden.
There are so many designs and styles that they can also add beauty to your garden. Beware though if you have cats or other animals that might hurt the birds. You will need to consider where to locate the birdbath and the type of birdbath you use. A pedestal birdbath provides some protection from cats. Just put it out in the open away from cover that a cat might hide in like shrubs or hedges. Even if you don’t have a big yard and have a small space, just one tree, some flowers, a birdbath and bird feeder will entice birds to your yard or patio.