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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.

Simple Pinecone Bird Feeder

One may ask what to do with all those fallen pinecones and the answer is simple.  Turn them into bird feeders.  If you do not have any pinecones, do not worry.  Stale bread and even untreated wood can be used in place of the pinecone.

Supplies Needed

Pinecones, stale bread or shapes cut from untreated wood

Peanut butter

Birdseed, peanuts and/or dried fruit




  1. Tie string around pinecone and cut it off several inches away from the cone.
  2. Smear peanut butter all over the pinecone and roll in the birdseed.  Add peanuts and dried fruit to the cone by pushing it into the peanut butter.
  3. Hang in a tree and watch the birds enjoy.

Platform Feeder


Scraps of untreated wood

Window screen




  1. Cut four strips of wood and nail or staple them together forming a “picture frame.”
  2. Flip what will be the top of the platform feeder over and attach the window screen on the bottom.  Make sure that the whole bottom is covered.  Completely covering the b bottom will keep the seed in while letting water drain out.
  3. Attach wire to the four corners using staples or nails.  Prior to filling with birdseed, check to make sure the platform feeder is balanced. 

Utilizing either one of these approaches will attract birds to your garden space, give you something to look at during the bleak months of winter, and will help provide a natural insect control.  But when using this approach, always make sure you have seed available.  Many birds will become depended on this food source.

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