Providing food, nest boxes, nesting materials, water, and natural habitat can attract birds to our backyards, giving us much nicer views of them and, when done properly, making life easier for the birds. Attracting birds is also a great way to introduce young people to nature, and it’s something the whole family can share. Having a bird-friendly yard has never been more important – nearly 80 percent of wildlife habitat in the United States is in private hands, and an average of 2.1 million acres each year are converted to residential use.
How do you begin?
An easy way to start out attracting birds is to put up a bird feeder. We’ll help you choose feeders and foods that appeal to the birds you want to attract, plus we’ll tell you where to put your feeder and how to maintain it. And we can give you some hints about food items, such as eggshells, fruits, and mealworms, that provide extra nourishment for some wonderful species.
Some birds, especially woodpeckers and chickadees, excavate cavities in tree trunks for nesting and roosting. Many other species, such as wrens, bluebirds, and some ducks and owls, nest in cavities that other birds have made. Nest boxes offer these birds a place to raise their young, especially where natural cavities are at a premium. Our nest box section describes the features of a good nest box, where to place it, and how to avoid predators. Our nesting section also lists some nesting materials you can offer that will help a wide variety of species.
Bird Baths and Other Enticements
A source of clean water, for drinking and bathing, may attract birds that don’t visit feeders. We can help ensure that your water helps birds, not mosquitoes or algae. And we’ve got ideas for other great attractants, too, such as building a brush pile.
The Big Picture: Landscaping
How we landscape our yard and deal with insects and weeds can make the difference between a bird haven and a pile of problems. Our landscaping section is full of tips to help you make your backyard a place where birds thrive.
6 Easy Steps to Better Birding
- Put out the welcome mat!
Create a habitat with native plants to provide natural food, shelter from weather and predators, and nesting sites. Provide feeders, nest boxes and water.
- Prepare a proper menu. Offering the right foods year round will attract more birds to your yard and help ensure that they have a safe and nutritious diet. Refill feeders regularly.
- Keep feed and feeding areas clean. At least monthly, clean feeders with 10% bleach and warm water. Scrub birdbaths with a brush. Replace water every three to five days. Keep seed/ foods dry; discard musty, wet or moldy food. Clean hummer feeders every three to five days, more often when hot.
- Birds and chemicals don’t mix.
Many pesticides, herbicides and fungicides are toxic to birds; avoid using these near areas where birds feed, bathe or rest.
- Keep cats away from birds.
Scientists estimate that cats in the U.S. kill hundreds of millions of birds each year. Keep cats indoors. Place feeders in areas not readily accessible to strays.
- Reduce window collisions.
Collisions with glass windows kill millions of wild birds each year. Windows reflect sky or trees, and birds try to fly through them. Attach decals or decorations to the glass to reduce reflections.