Using Plants to Attract Birds to Your Garden
If you’re an avid bird watcher, you may have noticed that certain birds seem to prefer certain plants to others. This is because every bird has different needs when it comes to food, nesting and protection.
Do you want to attract specific birds to your yard so you can enjoy their colors, songs and entertaining activities? We’ve compiled a convenient guide to help you plan out your garden with the flowers, trees and shrubs that offer everything your favorite birds need!
Fruit and Nectar
We all need to eat, and birds are no exception. You may wonder, “what do birds eat?” As with their other needs for survival, different species of birds have very diverse diets. The type of foods that each species of bird consumes can vary based on their size, metabolism and habitat. Large predatory birds, for example, hunt for small mammals or even fish. Common backyard birds, however, usually center their diet on foods such as seeds, fruit, insects or nectar.
While seeds are commonly taken from feeders and insects are snatched from the ground or air, fruit and nectar are usually provided by plants and trees nearby. The smallest birds, namely hummingbirds, prefer to live off the sweet nectar produced by hibiscus, azaleas, butterfly bushes and other flowering plants.
Other species, such as bluebirds, mockingbirds, robins and flickers, don’t consume nectar. They rely on plants that bear fruit to sustain their diet. Honeysuckle, cranberry bushes, serviceberry trees and winterberry bushes are among the popular choices for these fruit-eating birds.
After setting up a breeding territory and finding a mate, birds need to seek out the ideal location to build their nest. Each species of bird has its own particular preferences in regard to nesting sites. Preferred nesting sites vary from species to species as much as the types of bird nests. These spaces need to be a safe place for the birds to incubate their eggs and allow their young to develop.
For example, cardinals, catbirds, sparrows and thrashers all prefer to build their nests in flowering shrubs such as rose bushes. On the other hand, blue jays, bluebirds, finches, grosbeaks and mourning doves typically build nests in evergreens such as spruce trees and white pines.
As with all living things, birds need to feel safe in the areas they call home. If your favorite birds don’t feel properly protected in your yard, they are unlikely to stick around for long. If you want your feathered friends to nest and return year after year, you need to provide them with plants that offer the shelter they desire.
Some birds, such as Northern Cardinals remain in the same place year round and require constant protection regardless of the season. These birds are best served in yards that offer evergreen trees and shrubs as a hideout.
Other birds, such as thrushes and warblers often prefer to find shelter high up in the trees. For these birds, hemlock and oak trees are great options to satisfy their needs.
Birds in Your Garden
Do you have more questions about attracting popular birds to your backyard? Let us know in the comments below. You can also visit us on Facebook to share pictures and stories of your feathered visitors.
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