Inviting birds into ones garden space can be a blessing and a curse. On one hand, they eat bugs, which is very important. On the other hand, birds eat seeds and crops that we value. Corn and sunflowers are just a few of the crops that they love but sometimes you have to take the good with the bad.
In my opinion inviting birds to your garden space is a great way of utilizing one of nature’s best pest management tools.
During the spring and summer months, it is not difficult to attract birds. They require some type of shelter, which is covered by trees and shrubs. They also require water, which can be taken care of by a bird bath, small pond or stream. The last thing they need is food, which in the spring consists of seeds and insects. But what do you do during the fall and winter?
There are two approaches that one can follow. The first requires some planning while the second requires some construction.
The first approach deals with the plant material that one chooses to plant in their landscape and garden space. To attract birds, one must plan their landscape according to that purpose. Many trees produce fruits that birds love. This includes hollies, dogwood, and wild cherries. Shrubs also produce culinary delights for birds and include elderberry and serviceberry. Many grasses produce decorative heads that are consumed by birds. These include little bluestem, millet, foxtail, and switchgrass. Flowers are another food source that many people are not aware of beyond the sunflower but additional flower sources are available. These include goldenrod, and coneflower.
The second approach requires one to build a container by which food will be stored. This container can be as simple as a clean milk jug or as complex as a multi-level bird restaurant. The easiest structure to build is one that does not require a lot of tools or supplies. Below are two designs that are easy to do, utilize materials that are on hand or ones that can be recycled and provide an opportunity for families to work together.