Zero to Hero: Attracting More Birds to Your Backyard

Many articles exist about attracting wild birds to your backyard.  But, I have found that many of those articles don’t go into much depth.  How much more do I need to think about this, you say?  All you have to do is put up a feeder and pour in some seed, right?  Well, yes, that will work to a certain degree.  But, many of us bird enthusiasts want to do even more to increase the diversity of our backyard buddies beyond the sparrows and blackbirds that gobble everything and anything they see.  If that is you, read on…

We will go into depth in this series of articles designed to answer the question:  I have some, but how do I get more, many more, wild birds into my backyard for my viewing pleasure?

First, let’s give a simple plan for this series.  Birds require, like all living things, that their basic needs are met.  They will frequent and take up residence in the places that make meeting these needs easier.  So, if you want more birds, you may want to combine these efforts.  After all, not all birds eat seeds.  Some eat bugs, and some eat fruit.  But, ALL birds need water.  And, birds need to build nests.  And, birds need shelter.  As you can see, I have already broken down these basic needs into four categories:  Food, Water, Shelter, and Nesting Material.

FOOD

As stated a second ago, different birds eat different things.  And, the more diverse a menu we provide, the more diverse our clientelle will be.  (See what I did there?  LOL)  Anyhoo…  Not only are there different types of seeds, but stores offer different mixes and blends.  Which one works best?  Which one is most cost-effective for my budget?  All things to discuss in more detail.  There are many different feeders designed to cater to groups of birds.  For example, we can’t put Safflower seed in a Black-oil Sunflower mesh feeder because the Safflower seeds will fall right out.  (Sounds like I have personal experience with that one, huh?)  We will discuss feeder styles and their benefits, too.  

WATER

Birdbaths, fountain displays, misters, ponds, streams, moving water, static water, keeping our water clean from disease, catering to hummingbirds that don’t stop and drink water much, to designing and installing water features that enhance your backyard.  These are all topics we will further breakdown.  The category of water goes much deeper than a simple result from a google search that yields “birds need it to drink, so put up a water fountain.”  This very search result is what I aim to amend.

SHELTER

Birds need places to get out of incelement weather.  And, since you probably don’t plan to let them ride out Hurricane Hebert (that’s the French pronunciation) in your bedroom with you, you may want to add to your property the kinds of housing birds like to take residence inside.  Different trees, shrubs, ornamental grasses, and brush piles attract different families of birds.  Adding a diversity to your landscape provides many different shelters, but also attracts many different types of birds.  Some won’t use your feeders, so it’s about the only way you will ever have much of a chance to watch them.  Of course, we will discuss how to properly blend this in with your current landscape without creating the look of your crazy, hoosier neighbor that decided “this bush looks good here and this tree looks good here,” and never put any more thought into things than that.

NESTING MATERIALS

Often overlooked, the materials that create our birds’ nests can be incorporated into your landscape in a harmonizing way, too.  Don’t do like I did last spring and scoop up a bunch of dead pampas grass blades and stuff them into a Walmart bag to hang from a shepherd’s hook.  Sure, it’s effective, but it really looks dumb.  Our idea here is to put together some projects that will enhance the overall landscape.  Believe me, the birds will find what they need no matter how well we disguise things from our neighborhood BBQ guests.  The goal is to have those birds grab their materials from our yard instead of flying over to the local woods and grabbing stuff in there.

Those are the basics, and we will go into detail when we start talking about the individual categories.  My goal is to help you create a backyard paradise that attracts such a wide range of birds that you can sit on your back patio and enjoy your morning coffee….and actually have something to watch.  So many of us are falling into the rut of TV that we don’t get out and enjoy Mother Nature and her amazing beauty.  And, as a result, our kids are doing the same thing. 

The problem is:  Some of us already know, and appreciate, nature.  But, we aren’t passing that knowledge to our kids.  We are depriving our kids of some valueable things…….maybe a future hobby, but maybe, and far worse, our time with them.  Spending time, quality time, with your children will be something they take with them throughout their entire lives.  And, quite possibly, something they pass down to their kids.  I believe a love of nature should be one of those things.  And, my kids aren’t getting that from a TV or even from their schools.

This is probably the nutso side of me, but I believe that teaching our kids how to harmonize with nature can help them when they find themselves stuck in the woods some day.  I also believe that teaching our kids about nature fosters their natural curiosity.  That curiosity sparks questions.  Things they see.  Things they wonder.  This conversation will undoubtedly take twists and turns that start with a common interest, nature, and lead into many other things to discuss.  From bullies to girlfriends.  And, that gives us the opportunity to talk with our kids and teach them to handle life’s tougher issues. 

The TV doesn’t do that.  So, get out and learn about nature.  Observe it in action in your backyard, and with your kids.  And, in so many ways…..Keep Chuggin’!

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