You don’t have to travel or hike for miles to enjoy birdwatching. There’s plenty of great birding in your backyard, and you can attract even more birds by creating a garden sanctuary filled with the food, water, shelter and nesting sites birds need throughout the year. Moreover, tired, hunger birds face many dangers during migration and nesting season, and your bird-friendly backyard can be a life saver.
First, choose backyard plants wisely as they are a source of food (bugs, fruit, nuts & seeds, nectar) and shelter for birds in your neighborhood. Use this resource link to find the best plants for birds in your area ⇒ Native Plants for Birds
Don’t have a backyard?–no problem. You can attract birds to your balcony or patio with a bird-friendly container garden (here’s how ⇒ Get Started and Wildlife-friendly Planters, Hanging Baskets and Window Boxes)
Birds often have trouble finding enough calcium in their natural diet of seeds and insects, and they need even larger quantities of the mineral during nesting season. Providing calcium-rich food as a diet supplement for your backyard nesting birds will help in egg laying and chick development. Examples of good calcium supplement sources that are easy to place in your backyard: i) Feed birds dried mealworm; ii) Mix a small amount of crushed eggshells into bird seed or put eggshells from kitchen into compost pile or bin; iii) Provide a separate ‘grit’ dish away from bird feeders and fill with crushed oyster shell, dried finely-crushed gravel or mortar, sand, or wood ash from fireplace or fire pit (not chemically treated fire logs such as Duraflame).
You’ll be amazed at the variety of bird feeders available, and there are many options for those without a backyard or big outdoor space. Click/Tap this link to shop online ⇒ BIRD FEEDERS *
Birds need a good location and the right materials to build nests. The best place for nesting, however, varies among different bird species — from trees, bushes, vines to right on the ground, and they creatively use building materials such as dried grass, twigs, sticks, wood chips, mud, animal hair, moss, lichens, spider silk, plant fibers, feathers, and just about anything else.
There are three types of nests: cup, platform and cavity. While ‘primary’ cavity nesting species (such as woodpecker) dig out their nest cavities, ‘secondary’ cavity nesters can’t do the digging; consequently, they must search for pre-existing cavities to nest (e.g., the Mountain Bluebird has historically used tree cavities previously excavated by woodpeckers). Nesting boxes* and bird houses help make a bird’s search for a nesting cavity a little easier by providing more nesting opportunities. Even better, you can create natural starter holes for these cavity seekers with a drill and a little know-how ⇒ Instructions HERE
How to Make Your Yard Bird-Friendly, the National Audubon Society website (April 6, 2016) – choosing plants, planning, preparing and caring for a bird habitat garden
Bird Notes: Creating a Garden For Birds, The Cornell Lab of Ornithology (No. 13, Catalogue No. 223)
Attracting Birds, The National Wildlife Federation
Plants for Wildlife – everything you need to know about making a home for nature in your large or small garden (The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds)
Common Nesting Birds, NestWatch (The Cornell Lab of Ornithology) – information by region on habitat, nesting type and location
Plants For Birds (Native Plant Data Base – National Audubon Society) Find the best plants for birds in your area
Ten Spring Migration Tips to Help Birds on their Way, American Bird Conservancy
The Backyard Bird-Lover’s Guide* is a colorful reference book by Jan Mahnken filled with information on bird territory, courtship, nesting, and parenting with detailed illustrations by Jeffrey C. Domm as well as tips to attract, feed and watch 135 American bird species. Click/Tap on the image of the book for more info and purchase. [*If you purchase this book or any product directly through an affiliate link to Amazon shopping located on this page, Zeester Media LLC may earn a small commission. This in no way affects the price you pay for the purchase.]
If you missed Amy Tucker’s , talk Birding Basics: Preparing Your Backyard for Nesting Season at the Fayetteville Arkansas Public Library on February 27, 2018, it’s not to late to watch a video recording. Just click/tap the “Watch Again” button or the video post on the video player below ↓
Hummingbirds are Fast and Fearless, and so much fun to watch
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Feature photo is courtesy of Irina Blok/Unsplash, CC0
Bird Nest photo is courtesy of Landon Martin/Unsplash, CC0