By Michael Jenkins
We garden, in part, to gain a deeper connection with the natural world. During the summer months, birds are some of the most beautiful and intriguing creatures to grace our gardens. They add life and color to any space, and they can be just plain fun to watch in action. Planting a bird-friendly garden is a great way to attract more birds to your space as well as supporting their habitat and biodiversity. And making your garden space bird-friendly is easier than you might think—you can add bird friendly features to almost any outdoor garden regardless of size. Let’s take a look at some ideas for making your garden bird-friendly, and you how can support birds in general.
One of the first and easiest ways to attract birds to your garden is by supplying them with things they need, namely food, water and shelter. Food and water are the simplest place to start. Bird feeders are available at almost all garden stores and home improvement stores in a variety of styles and price points, and birdseed is likewise available and affordable. Mount your bird feeder someplace relatively high up where the birds will be safe from predators like domestic cats and make sure you clean the feeder and change it regularly. For water, a simple birdbath is easy to install. As with the bird feeder, place your birdbath such that the birds are safe while using it, and make sure you clean it and change the water regularly. Your local birds will come to count on the food and water you supply, so you’ll need to make sure to refresh both consistently.
If you’d like to feed your local hummingbirds, please use a good quality hummingbird feeder and appropriate liquid feed. The red hummingbird food sold in some stores is actually harmful to many species of hummingbird, so using an appropriate sugar-water mix is best. It’s easy to make a home and is wonderful for your hummingbird friends.
Shelter is another need birds have, and it’s fairly easy to build this into outdoor gardens. Large perennial shrubs and full grown trees provide safety, nesting spots, and perches for birds of all kinds. By letting some of your bushes grow a bit bigger and maintaining the trees on your property, you’ll be supporting both shelter and habitat for local birds. Bird houses can also be a good idea, provided they’re properly constructed and maintained. They give many species a welcome place to nest and raise their young safely and out of the weather.
The plants you choose for your garden may also support local birds. Often the best way to do this is by planting some native flora in your garden, particularly those native plants that provide food for the local bird population. The right plants will vary from place to place, but if you ask your local county agricultural extension, your local bird-watching group, or the local Audubon society they may be able to give you some guidance appropriate for your area.
All of these tips scale well, so even if you have a small container garden you can add a bird feeder, some water, and a couple of native plants in a container of their own. Every little bit helps, and your feathered friends will appreciate your efforts on their behalf!
If you have a bird garden, or just some birds visiting your garden, we’d love to know more about it. Send us pics either here or on social media and show us who’s coming to visit your flowers!