Feeding Backyard Birds: Tips For Attracting Birds To Your Garden

Bird Eating Seed Out Of A Bird Feeder
bird feeder1
(Image credit: Marcus T. Ward)

Attracting birds to your garden is good for the garden as well as the birds. Natural habitats that provide birds with food, shelter, and water are disappearing at an alarming rate. When you invite the birds into your garden, you'll be rewarded with entertaining antics and songs, and the birds will become your partners in the never-ending battle against bugs.

How to Attract Birds in the Garden

Encourage birds to take up residence in your garden by providing them with the three essentials: food, water, and shelter. If you provide any of these essentials, you will occasionally see birds in the garden, but if you want them to take up residence, you must provide all three when attracting birds to your garden. Trees and shrubs provide hiding places and nesting sites for birds. Birds that normally nest in tree cavities will appreciate nest boxes or bird houses (like those made from gourds) where they can raise a family in relative safety. If the trees and shrubs also have berries or cones, they double as a food source and the site becomes even more appealing. Planting a variety of different types of trees and shrubs attracts many different types of birds in the garden. Bird baths attract many species of birds and provide you with a never-ending source of entertainment. The bath should be 2 or 3 inches (5-8 cm.) deep with a rough bottom to provide the birds with a secure footing. Garden ponds with shallow edges and fountains also provide a water source for wild birds.

Wild Bird Feeding

An entire industry has developed around feeding backyard birds, and you won't lack for ideas after visiting a wild bird feeding center. Ask about the local birds and the types of food they eat. You can attract a wide variety of birds by offering a seed mix that contains white millet, black oil sunflower seeds, and thistle. Red millet is often used as filler in inexpensive mixes. It looks good in the mix, but few birds actually eat it. Suet is rendered beef fat. It is considered a winter food because it turns rancid when temperatures rise above 70 degrees F. (21 C.). You can make your own suet by mixing peanut butter with animal fat or lard. Adding bits of dried fruit, nuts, and seeds to suet makes it attractive to more species of birds.

Jackie Carroll

Jackie Carroll has written over 500 articles for Gardening Know How on a wide range of topics.