How to Attract Birds to Your Backyard

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Attracting wild birds to your backyard is a great way to enjoy wildlife without leaving your home.

While the most common reason to attract more birds is to enjoy the sight and company of your feathered friends. But birds aren’t just a beautiful sight. In fact, increasing the number of wild birds in your yard can have some very positive effects.

Birds are natural insect repellents. If you have a mosquito or gnat problem, birds can drastically reduce that problem. Also, bird droppings are a great natural fertilizer and can do wonders for your landscaping and grass growth. Last, but not least by any means, a healthy bird population is a cornerstone of your local ecosystem. By helping out your neighborhood birds, you’re helping out all the fauna and flora of your community.

So what are the easiest and best ways to attract more birds?

4 Simple Ways to Attract Wild Birds to Your Yard

Birds, just like us, have basic needs that need to be met to survive and thrive. These are water, food, shelter, nesting sites, and other birds. You can focus on one of those needs or try to meet them all to attract the most birds possible.

Of course, some types of birds are harder to attract and require different needs than the common types of backyard birds. For example, if you want to attract hummingbirds or even owls to your backyard, you’ll have to specifically cater to those.

For now, let’s take a look at some of the easy ways to attract wild birds.

1. Supply a Source of Water

Attract Birds With Water
A well-placed bird bath is bound to attract many wild birds to your backyard.

Seventy percent of the Earth is covered in water. Yet fresh and non-contaminated water is harder and harder to find in the wild. Birds need to drink and bathe, so having a source of clean water is an essential part of your backyard habitat.

Most people don’t have a pond in their backyard, so your best bet is to buy a good bird bath. Luckily, they come in all shapes and sizes so you won’t have any problems finding one that not only fits in your backyard but also complements your landscaping.

One thing to keep in mind is that birds flock to the sound of water, so, buying a bird bath with a fountain or a running water feature is ideal. You can even create a water fountain after the fact with a birdbath pump! Also, bird baths do require some maintenance. You should refill the water in the bowl every few days. And once every week or so use a scrub brush to go at it and clean all the filth out. You can read our guide on how to clean a bird bath properly to get an idea of how much work it will be.

However, it’s definitely worth the effort when you watch your feathered friends preen themselves in your bird bath.

2. Provide Plenty of Food

How to attract birds with food & bird feeders
Bird feeders are a great way to keep birds coming back all year round.

The easiest and quickest way to attract birds to your backyard is to provide them with a source of food. This is usually done by buying one (or many) bird feeders.

Different types of birds eat different types of food. So knowing what kind of birds you want to attract is important in knowing which bird feeders to buy. For example, hummingbirds eat nectar from a hummingbird feeder and woodpeckers eat suet. If you want to attract a large variety of birds with a single feeder, your best bet is to get a hopper-style feeder.

You can learn more about the best bird feeders to buy here.

Another thing to keep in consideration is that not all bird seed is created equal. Lots of bird seed is supplemented with filler seeds that birds rarely eat. It’s important to buy high-quality bird seed to attract the most birds.

3. Plant Native Flowers & Trees to Provide Shelter

How to attract birds with native plants
Birds prefer hanging out in native plants and trees they are used to.

Wild birds prefer plants that they are familiar with and would encounter in their natural habitat. Though that exotic Japanese maple may look amazing in your yard, it won’t be very beneficial to your local bird population.

There are two main reasons that planting native plants attracts a large variety of birds:

  1. Native plants provide a natural source of food. Local plants attract local insects. Birds require a large abundance of insects during nesting season. Having a healthy insect population will also attract birds that solely eat insects, like warblers. Lots of native plants also provide edible seeds to birds, so it’s just another source of food in case you forget to refill your bird feeder. The best types of plants are ones that produce berries, fruit, seeds, nuts, sap, and nectar as these tend to attract the most wildlife. 
  2. Native plants offer shelter. Unlike us humans, birds prefer wild and unmanaged yards. Luckily, we can get the best of both worlds by planting a large variety of flowers, bushes, and trees at varying heights. Providing a large variety of flora will attract a diverse group of birds. Your landscaping doesn’t need to be overgrown and unmanageable to be attractive to birds. One of the best types of trees to provide shelter are evergreen trees because they’re dense enough for birds to hide from predators and provide safe haven all year round.

Of course, you’re now probably wondering how to figure out what native plants grow in your area.

The National Audubon Society has a great little tool that allows you to put in your zip code and it finds which native plants in your area attract which birds.

4. Give Birds a Place to Nest

attract wild birds by giving them a place to nest
Birds need a place to call home too.

Besides food, water, and shelter, birds also need a place to call home and raise their young. By providing dense native plants and bushes in your backyard you’re already giving birds a natural nesting place. But sometimes, the best way to guarantee that you’ll see some young birds in your backyard is to provide a dedicated nesting box.

Nesting boxes come in all shapes and sizes to accommodate different species of birds. So the first thing you need to do is decide what type of bird you want nesting in your yard. Some birds prefer nesting near others of their species, while other species prefer to nest far away from their kin.

How to Enjoy the Birds in Your Backyard

Once your backyard is teeming with wild birds, it’s time to enjoy the view.

While some people get enjoyment just knowing that they’re helping out their local bird population, there are many different ways to get enjoyment from attracting birds to your yard.

Many people enjoy identifying and recording which birds visit their backyard. You’ll be surprised by how many different species of birds you can see over the years. Another way to enjoy the birds is to practice your wildlife photography or even live stream your avian visitors to the world. By sharing pictures and videos of birds, you can bring joy to those of us who aren’t as fortunate to have a wild yard.

Bird Identification & Bird Watching

Bird watching is a popular hobby. A large part of birdwatching is learning how to identify the birds you see. When you first start out trying to identify the birds in your backyard, you may be overwhelmed. But over time, you’ll start to be able to identify birds by their sounds and their flight pattern.

The best way to start identifying birds is to get a good birdwatching book. They even have apps now that can help you figure out what species of bird you’re looking at. Either way, get yourself a good guidebook and start identifying away.

If you’re a list-maker or consider yourself a “completionist” then you might get great enjoyment from recording which birds you’ve seen. A bird journal is a great way to do this, though an old-fashioned spreadsheet or pen and paper will do just as well.

Bird Cameras & Live Streams

If you enjoy sharing your feathered friends with the world, then consider getting yourself a decent bird camera or live cam that you can set up near your feeders or bird nests.

You can’t always be watching your backyard, so the chances of missing out on great moments are very high. By setting up a bird cam, you can rewatch and identify the birds that visit while you’re away.

About The Author
Robert has been an avid birdwatcher pretty much his entire life. Living in the suburbs he does his best to bring wild birds into his backyard. He currently has 13+ bird feeders in his yard and also raises and races homing pigeons. Robert writes part-time for Wild Yards, mostly about the subject he cares most about - birds.

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