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Three tips for a bird-friendly backyard

May 21, 2018

Like us, birds need three basic things to survive: food, water and shelter. You can help provide all three — right in your backyard.

Photo credit: Steve Banks

Food for thought

Try choosing plants for your garden with birds in mind. You can attract birds with native plants like these that have seeds, berries or nectar for them to eat:

  • mock orange (seeds)
  • large-leaved lupine (seeds and nectar)
  • red-flowering currant (berries and nectar)
  • orange honeysuckle (berries and nectar)
  • red columbine (seeds and nectar)

Gardens with a variety of plants also attract insects — and the birds who feed on them.

Water, water, anywhere?

With a bird bath, you are bound to get all sorts of visitors. The best baths are those that mimic shallow puddles (which are basically nature’s bird baths).

Want to up your bird bath game? Add a water dripper! Birds will be attracted to the sound and movement of the water.

All you will need is a plastic milk jug. Poke a tiny hole in the bottom and hang it above your bird bath so that it drips slowly down into the bath throughout the day. Be sure to unscrew the lid a little. Releasing some air this way will keep the jug from collapsing in on itself. Refill the dripper every day or two.

Shelter shortcut

Spring is baby bird season! Everywhere you look, birds are hard at work gathering materials to build a nest. Why not make their lives a little easier with a “nest helper”?

A simple nest helper can be made from stuffing a kitchen whisk with an assortment of nesting materials. While you are out on a walk, try collecting:

  • mosses and lichens
  • dead twigs
  • bark strips
  • pine needles
  • dead leaves
  • dry grass (untreated)
  • plant fluff or down (from cottonwoods and bulrushes, for example)

At home, you can also gather:

  • sprigs of herbs or shrubs (untreated)
  • hay
  • straw
  • leaf mulch
  • crafting feathers (not dyed)

Once the whisk is filled, hang it from a tree or mount it on a fence. If you want, use several whisks, filling each one with a different nesting material. Then see which one the birds prefer!

Keep the nest helper filled through summer too, as some birds nest late and others nest more than once during the season.

Photo credit: Dan Hillert

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