Cary, NC — Backyard bird watching is a growing pastime in America, and people in the Triangle area are no exception. What does it take to make your property an attraction for birds? It’s simple and inexpensive!
How to Attract Birds to Your Backyard
Those who choose to partake of this family-friendly entertainment can be rewarded with 30-50 distinct species to their backyards, depending on the type of habitat that they provide.
Water is Essential
A source of water is essential for all birds. Water will draw even birds that will not visit a feeder. A water feature that draws them can be as simple as a classic birdbath or as dramatic as a purpose-built pond and fountain. Even more attractive to birds is moving water.
This can be supplied by something as simple as a dripper line or “water wiggler,” both of which are found in many hardware stores. I’ve also seen wonderful results with an inexpensive water-powered fountain that is placed in a generous-sized birdbath. No matter how you offer water to birds, cleaning the birdbath regularly is critical to prevent the spread of disease.
Have a Strong Food Supply
A single-seed feeder in a yard can draw many kinds of birds. This offering complements nature’s own larder and gives birds incentive to select your property for visits.
An excellent choice is black oil sunflower seed, which is appealing to many species of songbirds and is widely available for sale. Even more species of birds will visit suet feeders. Suet cakes are readily available at home supply stores.
Also, consider inviting Mother Nature to feed the birds! By planting native trees, shrubs and wildflowers that are bird favorites, you can attract an even wider range of species.
Birds depend on places of safety to avoid predators and to roost at night. A feeder out in the open that is far from trees or shrubs can be too dangerous for most birds to use.
By planting trees and shrubs in your yard, you can create these pockets of safety as well as shady places for birds to rest in times of summer heat and winter wind.
Feeders should be placed several feet from trees–close enough for comfort but not too close to help predators like snakes and squirrels.
…& a Place to Nest
You can greatly improve the odds of enjoying birds for years if they can raise families in your backyard. Trees and shrubs can support birds that build “bowl” nests. You can also install nest boxes on posts for species like bluebirds, which don’t nest in trees and shrubs.
When installing nest boxes, it is important always to use predator guards and to purchase (or make) boxes that are well drained that resist predators and that are appropriate to species that may nest in your area.
Mind the Cats
One of the greatest dangers to backyard songbirds are household cats. No matter how well fed your cat may be, it is instinctively a predator and will catch and kill young and nesting birds. By keeping cats indoors, you can tilt the odds more in favor of the birds you love to observe.
Do You Live in a Small Space?
It is harder for those who live in apartments, condominiums and town houses to do all of the things we discussed above, but residents of smaller living quarters can still take steps to attract birds. It’s not too hard to install one or more feeders and offer water in a bowl or dish and, depending on space, to include plants that serve as shelter or food sources.
Story and photos by David Lindquist, an avid Cary birdwatcher and greenways enthusiast. Lead photo by CapnGimp.