How do you turn your yard into an inviting sanctuary where birds will come to nest, raise their families and seek shelter for the winter?
The way to start is to look at your yard from a bird’s eye view. Find a vantage point where you can see the whole front yard or backyard at once (try the back steps or an upstairs window). Then ask yourself these questions. (Your answers will help you plan your birdscape.)
- Are there places for birds to hide? Songbirds need protective cover from potential enemies like cats, snakes and hawks.
- Are there places for birds to nest? Birds will be drawn to your yard during the breeding season if you have inviting places for them to next, such as trees, shrubs, hedges, brambles and even vines.
- Are there sheltered areas where birds can protect themselves from the elements? Evergreens, shrubs planted against walls and other sheltered areas will give birds a place out of the cold, wind and rain.
- Is there food and water? Bird feeders and birdbaths are great helps to overwintering birds (in fact, a heated birdbath is often critical to winter survival). But during the rest of the year, it’s important to provide natural food sources–flower nectar, grass seedheads, fruits, berries and a diversity of plants to attract insects, since many songbirds are insectivores. You can landscape for winter by choosing plants that keep their berries or seeds well into the coldest months. You’ll find that the extra color and texture these plants provide really perk up your landscape, too! A small pond, pool or puddle will attract thirsty birds and an interesting assortment of wildlife, including frogs, toads and dragonflies.