Attract birds

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Attracting Birds to
your Garden


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Attract Birds - Housing
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Attract Birds - Shrubs, Plants

Attract birds

Prepare for Spring
Spring Stretch!
Attract Birds Intro
Attract Butterflies

Plants for Birds and Butters spreadsheet

Birds need relatively few things to be happy - food, lodging, water, and cover.  The best way to make sure your winged guests keep coming back is to create a suitable habitat.  They want dense vegetation that provides a variety of food, shelter against bad weather and predators, a place to nest, and a year-round source of water

Make your garden inviting to birds, and they'll reward you with their song and presence year round.  The bright colors of cardinals, bluejays, grosbeaks, and chickadees are one way to really "decorate" and cheer up your garden in winter!

For an extensive list of plants that attract birds and butterflies, download our handy spreadsheet with many types of bird and butterfly attracting plants.  It can be sorted by plant type, bloom time, color, etc.  Note you will have to print it out to see the legend.  Use legal size paper, landscape orientation.

We start with food.

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Eating Like a Bird

Ideally, our favorite birds prefer natural foods - seeds, nectar, insects, and fruit.  These should be augmented with a well-filled feeder or two, containing seed that attracts the type of birds you want,

Most seed mixes contain seeds that our native songbirds dislike, and they toss them on the ground out of the way.  There, they promptly sprout and infest your garden with unwanted volunteer plants.  Even shells from the unshelled sunflower seeds can cause a problem because they are very acid, and can actually harm the pH balance of your soil.

One of the best seeds for most song birds is cracked sunflower seed.  It's usually a mix of regular and the high oil sunflower seeds - with no shells!.  It's a bit more costly, but there is no waste - and no weeding of sunflower plants from out of the garden either.  These work well in all the different kinds of feeders.  Tube-type feeders save the seed for the birds - but they take only hulled or small seeds.

show (1x1 -- 43 bytes)Niger seed is another excellent variety for attracting the smaller birds, as well as mourning doves.  These require special tube feeders that will not allow the tiny seed to escape.

It is critical in winter to keep the feeders filled.  Birds have a fast metabolic rate, and without adequate food, will weaken and die quickly, especially in a very cold spell.  

Suet balls and feeders are a good winter addition, as the extra fat helps replace the birds' metabolic reserves.  They are available mixed with seeds, nuts, insects, etc. to attract the type of birds in your area.  Woodpeckers, chickadees and other birds that remain through the winter prefer suet.  Specially treated suet is now available that will not go rancid even in hot summer months.  There are varieties impregnated with various seeds, peanuts, insects and fruit, too - something for everyone's tastes!

Orioles and cedar waxwings prefer fruit.  Sliced oranges on a tray will attract them. Hummingbirds of course, love nectar, which should be changed daily in hot weather.  There's nothing sadder than a tipsy hummer who's had a bit too much fermented nectar from a batch that sat in the sun too long.  Orioles are often attracted to hummingbird feeders that offer them a foot-hold - they don't hover like the hummers.

Home ] Attract Birds - Housing ] Attract Birds - Trees ] Attract Birds - Shrubs, Plants ] Prepare for Spring ] Spring Stretch! ] [ Attract Birds Intro ] Attract Butterflies ]

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