My friends are always amazed at the amount and types of wild birds at my feeders when they come to visit me. Some of them started asking me how I attract so many kinds of birds. After a bit of thinking my response was, it’s simple! All you will need to do is offer wild birds what they want or want to survive. Basically birds need the same items as we do-shelter, water and food.
Shelter is very important to wild birds and wild life just as it is important to us. Shelters offer protection from the elements and predators. It gives wild birds and wild life a place to roost, rest and sleep. Based on the type of shelter that attracted the birds that the shelter may also provide a food source. Conifers like Blue Spruce or Scotch Pines make excellent shelters because of their dense branching habit. The dense branch in addition to the needles leaves wild birds protection and leads to a higher nesting survival rate. These evergreens attract wild birds too for their food sources. Pine cones yield a lot of seeds which attracts crossbills, pine siskins and pine grosbeaks. Nuthatches and woodpeckers probe the trunks and bark for insects to supplement their dietary needs. Large mature trees such as oaks or maples attract wild birds for shelter too. Woodpeckers will search for a cavity in the tree trunk for security and to raise a family. Cardinals and many other song birds are drawn to overgrowth and shrubbery for their shelter needs. Due to the loss of natural habitat artificial shelters and nesting boxes will attract wild birds. A bird home constructed to the specifics of the type of bird you wish to attract and placed in the right place will lure the birds.
Food is a necessity for many creatures. The availability of food and the sort of food will establish the birds attracted to the yard. Wild bird seed blends containing black and striped sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, milo, millet and corn will attract the best range of birds. The sunflower seeds are eaten by cardinals, titmouse and nuthatches. Sparrows will eat the smaller millet seeds while pigeons and doves will feed on the Milo. The safflower seeds are delightful morsels for the white breasted nuthatches and cardinals. Quail, pheasant and juncos are drawn to the cracked corn kernels. Another seed which attracts wild birds is the nyjer seed. This tiny black seed comes from India and is very similar to thistle seed. Birds in the finch family and doves love this seed.
Berries, fruit and nuts hanging on a tree or from a feeder brings fruit eating birds. Tanagers and orioles will stop to eat grapes and oranges. Catbirds, warblers and waxwings will help themselves to berries, cherries and apples. Good luck trying to find some for yourself.
Insects are a food source for many birds. A rotten tree full of worms and rodents attracts flickers and downy woodpeckers. Bees, ants and wasps are brought up by flycatchers and phoebes. Grubs are tasty to robins and grackles which can help keep the lawn pests in check.
Suet is fat or beef lard that has been rendered. It usually comes in cubes or squares and served in what is called suet cages. The fat provides a whole lot of dietary calories and nutrients to the birds. Many companies combine bird seed or incorporate fruit bits in with the fat providing the birds more nutritious product.
Nectar from plants and flowers such as honeysuckles, lobellia and fuchsia provide hummingbirds with high energy calories. The high sugar content of nectar helps preserve the high metabolic needs of these birds. Orioles and woodpeckers will visit nectar feeders for a dose of the sweet fluid.
Water is the third element for attracting wild birds. They are so curious to learn what’s making the sound and where it’s coming from that they will explore. A water feature be it a pond or bird bath especially if it makes running water or dripping noise will certainly attract avian friends. The attraction for water varies with the seasons. All year long birds need to have fresh water for drinking. Come the summertime birds tend to use the water for bathing. . This is significant as it helps rid the bird of lice and parasites. It also helps in maintaining good feather health. After bathing the birds will preen themselves spreading oils on their feathers and re-aligning their feathers into the appropriate positions. The bath helps get rid of excess oils also. Migration in the fall brings birds into the bird bath for refreshment more so than for bathing. A bird bath in the winter using a de-icer or heating element in it is going to attract wild birds for fresh water drinking. You may see a bird bathing, using the water but the tub is really more for drinking purposes. Birds do not like deep water. So if the water is deeper than 2 inches add a rock or dish for the bird to stand on. Remember to always clean the bird baths to prevent the spread of diseases and also to keep our feathered friends healthy. By providing shelter, food and water your lawn should attract wild birds and wildlife. Enjoy the birds that come to see.