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       Attracting Birds To Your Back Yard



Many gardeners like to view the different species of birds that are attracted to their gardens.  It is possible to increase the number of birds that visit, and the types of birds that visit, by increasing the type and variety of food, shelter, and water features you offer in your landscape.

Birds need water to drink, and they need water to bathe.  A pond or other water feature can offer that water to birds.  If you do not have a pond, you can put in a birdbath.  Birdbaths need more maintenance than ponds do, but that may be all you have room for.  If you use a birdbath, you need to put a brick in it that just sticks out of the water. This allows small birds to reach the water if the sides of the bird bath are too far from the water in the bird bath.  If you have a pond or bird bath that is not flowing water, mosquitoes are a problem.  They lay their eggs on still waters.  The larvae hatch out and live there for a while before pupating and becoming adult mosquitoes.  You can purchase a product called Dunk Its that will kill the mosquito larvae in you water but will not hurt anything else.  Change the water in the bird bath at least once a month and try to keep the bird bath full as much of the time as you can.

Food comes in many different guises.  Birds eat the insects on plants or in the air, they eat nectar from the plants in the garden, and they eat birdseed and suet people put out for them.  In the best case scenario, your garden can provide all three types of food. If not, even one type of food will help the birds survive and bring them to your landscape.

To make sure birds can safely eat insects in your garden, you will have to be very cautious about pesticide use in your landscape.  First, if you kill all the bugs the birds can’t eat them.  Second, you don’t want to poison your birds by using pesticides too freely or in an unsafe matter.  Be sure you read the whole pesticide label and follow the instructions exactly.  Be willing to plant some trap crops to keep insects away from your good plants can help the birds, too, by providing a good lots of bugs for the birds to eat.  You can also have a flat bird feeder and put mealworms on the panel.  Robins and other birds that won’t fly up to a bird feeder will snatch the mealworms up.  Mealworms are sold by pet supply companies or through the mail.  You can get them freeze dried but the live ones work the best.


If you are going to put birdfeed and suet out for the birds, think “diversity.” The more diverse the offerings, the more types of birds will come.  Black oil sunflower seeds are the holy grail of birdseed.   Blue jays, cardinals, chickadees, finches, nuthatches, and sparrows love it.

Birdseed mixes are very popular with beginners.  Sometimes they are not so popular with the birds.  Lots of “filler” seed and not too many good seeds can frustrate the birds.  They push the picked over seed out of the feeder and onto the ground.  This does give birds that do not land on feeders a source of food.  It also often attracts squirrels.

Thistle or Nyjet.  This is a really small seed that finches love.  You need a special feeder but it is worth it to watch the fun and beautiful finches.

Suet is really a block of animal fat.  It is useful in the winter when birds need more calories just to stay warm and are having trouble finding food.  It is served in a suet feeder mounted on a post.  Wire the feeder shut so the raccoons and possums won’t steal the cake of suet.

Nectar in a hummingbird feeder will attract hummingbirds.  They are very territorial birds and you may want multiple feeders to keep multiples from fighting.  The nectar is four parts water to one part white sugar.  Dissolve the sugar in warm water, let it cool so it won’t burn any tongues, and put out.  No food coloring is the best option for your birds.

You can also feed birds peanuts, peanut butter, cracked corn, and a variety of seeds and manufactured foods.  The bigger the spread the more birds visit.

Shelter is more than the bird house you built for a project one summer.  Different birds use different sizes of bird boxes.  The entry hole makes a difference between small birds in the birdhouse versus big ones.  The best bet is a selection of bird houses placed on your property.  There are lots of free plans for birdhouses, so just pick some and build them.  Be sure and follow the instructions for mounting them. A good house in the wrong location is not likely to be chosen by the birds for living quarters.

The other kind of shelter is the shrubs and trees around the various feeders you  have.  Birds do not usually fly straight to the birdfeeder.  They land on a handy shrub or tree and then dart over to the feeders.  Then they fly right back to the shrub.  So place shrubs close to the feeders but not too close.  They should be too far for a domestic cat to jump out of the shrub and grab a bird flying to the shrub.

These ideas should give you a wide variety of bird life to watch.  If you continue to put out food, the birds will continue to come.  They will also be attracted by the noise of birds feeding.  Birds are very curious and they have to check those sounds out. 

You will need to clean each bird feeder out regularly.  Wet weather will cause fungus and other nasty things to grow on the food, potentially sickening birds who eat it.  Even in dry weather, messy birds can dirty feeders pretty fast, so they need to be cleaned.  Hummingbird feeders should especially be cleaned every time you change the nectar inside because all that sugar ferments in the heat and can grow nasty bugs or even alcohol inside.

CONTENT TWO


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