Attracting Birds to Your Landscape
watching all of the red birds outside the family dining room window at my grandparent’s home. It seemed those birds would know they were putting on a show at the birdbaths and bird feeders.
Perhaps, you would like to make your landscape more inviting to birds. I will be sharing information from a UGA publication revised by Bob Westerfield on this topic. When I retire, the county agent may take up bird watching as a hobby. Who knows, I may win the top award for seeing the most birds in a calendar year.
One of the key tips in attracting birds to your landscape or backyard is based on providing three essential ingredients. Those are food, shelter/ nesting areas and water. By providing any or all of these ingredients, you can increase your chances of great bird watching time on your property. By doing this, you are making your landscape a more proper bird habitat.
Westerfield states that ornamental trees and shrubs can give the cover or shelter that birds need plus providing nesting areas. Keep in mind that as much as possible, the trees and shrubs should provide a year round food source. If you can incorporate native trees and shrubs, you should be able to provide a good amount of fruits and berries that native birds will enjoy and use.
If your ornamentals are not going to provide a food source at certain times, you can offset with commercial birdseed. Birds can be like people. Some birds will eat a variety of things while others only like certain items. Westerfield adds that the majority of birds will like sunflower seeds, proso millet seeds and peanut kernels.
Do not underestimate the need for cover especially if bird are going to be longtime residents on the property. Cover can protect birds from predatory animals and also from inclement weather. Birds like multistem plants that will make a thick canopy. These dense canopy areas will make nice nesting areas too. The cover you provide needs to be a mix of deciduous and evergreen plants due to birds needing year all year long. It is suggested that evergreen plants include broadleaf varieties such as holly and conifers. It is also suggested that at least 25 percent of the trees and shrubs be evergreens in regards to cover.
Just like people, birds enjoy fresh water. Fresh water is necessary to keep your bird population. Most folks will think about a bird bath in regards to a water source. The main thing is the water source should be shallow so no more than 2-3 inches deep. The water needs to be replaced regularly. A shallow fountain is a good idea if possible. Keep the water source in an open area or elevated to help the birds be on the lookout for predators. Yes, your family cat can be a predator for birds. Help the birds by putting the water source in a spot that will help them be on the lookout for life threatening situations. When the weather gets cold, the birds still need water, so be prepared to offer fresh water even in winter months.
Our information can provide a list of trees and shrubs that can help make a better bird habitat. If increasing the bird population is a goal, look at the habitat element provided by that ornamental, the fruiting season of that tree or shrub, is the item evergreen or deciduous and at mature size will the ornamental fit the spot. Westerfield suggests to conduct a landscape inventory of your trees and shrubs.
Determine your mix of evergreens and deciduous trees. Remember a goal of 25 percent evergreens in the landscape. Know the time of fruiting so you will know when food supplementation may be needed and make sure you are providing proper cover and nesting areas. The more fruit and berries the ornamentals will provide over the long haul will mean less supplemental food sources you have to purchase or provide. If the inventory shows you have gaps or need to improve the deciduous or evergreen mix, use our ornamental charts to help. Do not forget to realize the mature size of an ornamental and plant in correct spot.
For more information, contact UGA ExtensionGordon County at 706-6298685 or email gbowman@ uga.edu.