Birdscaping: 10 Tips for How to Attract More Birds

Birdscaped backyards provide birds with bird feeders & seed-producing plants for food, native plants for hiding & nesting, and water sources for drinking & bathing. Try birdscaping with these 10 tips for attracting more birds!

1. Multiple feeders attract more birds

Providing multiple bird feeder styles and foods attracts more birds to your backyard. Simultaneously offering sunflower, Nyjer®, peanuts, fruit & jelly, suet, and mealworms will attract the greatest variety of bird species to your birdscape. You can also purchase bird feeders and birdseed blends that increase the attractiveness of your backyard for specific bird species you’re interested in attracting.

2. Birds feel safe with natural shelter

Adding trees, shrubs, and flowers to your backyard enhances its seamless, natural feel for the birds, since native plant life gives them protection from predators and nesting space for raising their young. Birds thrive when you enrich their water source with water-side plants, which they use for hiding spots when predators are in the area. Adding a few logs and rocks to your garden complements the flowers, trees, & shrubs and provides the same protections and comfort for birds during winter months.

3. Bird baths aren’t just for bathing

Birds need year-round sources of fresh water for their drinking and bathing needs. A bird bath doesn’t have to be anything large or elaborate, just a shallow, sloped water source with a rough surface to grip onto, such as terra-cotta, and an ideal water depth of 1-3 inches. Feeder birds are used to the elevation of bird feeders, so they enjoy elevated water sources. A ground-level birdbath creates the most nature-like pond for the birds and also attracts bird species not attracted to the elevated birdbaths. For colder months, heated bird baths are optional but not necessary. You can also just place out a small dish of water each day, making sure to bring it in when it starts to freeze.

4. Moving water gets birds’ attention

Birds love gently moving water. A waterfall or dripping feature attracts feeder birds and will also attract birds that may not visit your bird feeders. Bird-oriented ponds differ from decorative ponds, because the best bird-oriented pond blends in naturally with the surrounding environment and landscape, so that the birds view your pond as an extension of their natural habitat.

5. Clean water is crucial for birds’ health

Birds use water for drinking and bathing, so it’s always a good idea to empty & refill birdbaths every night and clean them regularly. Fresh, clean water is a must-have for bird health, as some bird diseases can spread through contaminated water. Water features and pumps can double as filtration systems, but it’s always a good idea to periodically drain & clean your water source, making sure that you don’t use cleaning chemicals that could be harmful to wildlife.

6. Parent birds use nest boxes to nurture their young

Nest boxes (bird houses) help birds in spring & summer find a safe place to raise their nestlings free from predators. Sometimes birds even lay another clutch of eggs in the same nest that season. The entrance hole size determines what birds will use your nest box. Not all birds are cavity nesters, but at least 46 North American bird species are known to use nest boxes. Offering nest building materials such as fallen leaves and twigs will also attract birds to take up residence in your yard.

7. Roost boxes keep winter birds warm

Wintering birds need shelter, and roost boxes are a cozy place to escape the elements. More birds can roost together than would fit in a typical nest box, and roost boxes are designed to trap in heat.

8. Color catches the bird’s-eye view

Birds have an extremely developed sensitivity to color and are attracted to bright colors not commonly found in nature. You can use colorful and flowering plant species to add a splash of color to your birdscape so birds on the fly can spot your bird oasis from the sky. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Yard Map is a great resource for helpful hints on birdscaping your backyard.

9. Birds love seed-producing plants

Seed-producing flowers and plants are a welcome food source for birds such as towhees, sparrows, quail, finches, and doves. It’s best to use native plants in the course of your birdscaping, because they’re already adapted to your region’s climate, and local birds are used to them already.

10. Thriving ecosystems foster bird populations

Plants are far more than just visually attractive. They’re a crucial part of your backyard’s ecosystem, because seeds, fruits, & nectar provide sustenance for songbirds, butterflies, bees, & hummingbirds, and also provide a food source for native insects to feed upon. Many birds rely on insects to feed their young, so maintaining healthy numbers in populations of native insect species is a critical element for sustaining a growing population of birds.