Casual bird-watching was a staple of my childhood. My family has always lived in areas with trees, so a couple of bird feeders and a birdbath attracts a lot of birds. Just today while doing my lunch dishes I saw some downy woodpeckers, chickadees, titmice, cardinals, and sparrows just outside the window. Occasionally, we see more exotic birds like hummingbirds, red-bellied woodpeckers, and bluebirds.

Red-bellied woodpecker on birdfeeder

Obviously if you live in an area with no trees it’s going to be much harder to attract our feathered friends. But if you’re willing to put forth a little bit of time and effort, some relatively simple landscaping can make your yard much more more bird-friendly. As the Cornell Lab of Ornithology explains, there are three basic things that birds need: food, water, and shelter:

Landscaping for Birds

Putting up a feeder is an easy way to attract birds. But if you want to attract a wider variety of species, prefer your backyard birds to get a more natural diet, or wish to satisfy more than birds’ nutritional needs, …

A birdbath is a simple way to provide water for birds. We have a small heater in ours to keep it from freezing in the winter. When everything else is frozen over, the birds flock to it. As for food, you can purchase a variety of birdfeeders, though you’ll probably want something that is “squirrel-proof”. Now I know from experience that pretty much no feeder, no matter how it is marketed, is 100% squirrel-proof. But you can at least try make it a challenge for the squirrels to eat all of your seed.

Squirrel on birdfeeder

Sunflower seed is probably the most common birdseed, as most birds enjoy it. Goldfinches are particularly attracted to thistle seed, and you can also put out suet for the woodpeckers.

When it comes to shelter for the birds, that’s where the landscaping comes in. We’ve learned over the years that if our birdfeeders are too far away from trees or bushes the birds won’t come. They need to have a place close by to retreat to if they feel threatened. So, you will need to provide some trees, shrubbery, bushes, etc. for the birds to hide in. Here’re some tips:

Creating a Bird-Friendly Yard – Landscaping for Birds

The habitat you provide in your yard will influence the number and types of birds that you attract.   You can attract birds by adding bird feeders, nest boxes, and bird baths to your yard. … 

Some other things to consider are the kinds of plants and trees that birds are attracted to, and whether or not they might attract different birds as the seasons change. This article offers some suggestions:

Selecting Trees and Shrubs to Attract Birds

A good habitat requires several layers of plant material. This includes ground level, shrub level and tree level. Since different birds nest at different heights, several layers provide space for a variety of birds. …

And that’s it. Provide your birds with food, water, and some shelter, and they should be flocking to your porch in no time.

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