As the days grow longer and we make our way towards spring, we can’t help but daydream about lounging outside in the warmth of the sun while listening to an orchestra of happy chirps and watching the fluttering colors of winged creatures as they go about their day. Truth be told many birds are very particular on where they choose to spend their time. Not to worry, there is still time to make this daydream come true! Here’s a few things you can do to help invite these enchanted fellows into your sanctuary.
First, a consistent source of clean, fresh water is not only essential for drinking but for bathing and preening, which helps keep their feathers insect-free. Birdbaths, shallow ponds and fountains provide some great solutions. Ideally the pool of water shouldn’t be too deep and have a gentle slope, as to imitate a natural occurring puddle. It is important to keep the water clean and algae-free. For this reason heavy materials like concrete are not recommended. Tough plastics, glazed ceramic with food safe glazes, and aluminum are suitable alternatives. Birds prefer ground level water sources but if cats or other predators are a concern, they may be raised 2’-3’ off the ground. Just take care to secure base sufficiently.
Planting gardens that are native to your area is one of the best ways to ensure feathered visitors. Birds that are local to your area will be looking for those naturally occurring plants they know and love. Perennial flowers, vines, berried bushes, and shrubs are not only beautiful year after year but will offer a source of food and shelter for generations of birds to come. Plants in different stages will attract different birds. For example, Trumpet Honeysuckle, this vine’s trumpet shaped flowers and nectar attracts Hummingbirds while other birds like Purple Finches and Hermit Thrushes will eat the fruit. Different plants will offer different benefits. Milkweed’s fibrous stems and downy seeds are utilized in nest building while Silky Dogwood can provide nectar, berries and a place to nest. The more bird friendly plants you have the better your chances.
An added benefit to having a bird friendly space is the natural form of insect control. As much as birds enjoy berries or nectar they will eat insects all year round. But in early spring especially, when larvae levels are at their height, birds can reduce the overall insect population and are happy to do so!
Strength in numbers! If your space is inviting to some birds, other birds will follow. Birds naturally find security in being around other birds. Implement these recommendations and provide the resources birds need, and you’re sure have a fleet of feathery friends in no time!