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Could birds be the missing element in your backyard?

Could birds be the missing element in your backyard?

In recent years, bird populations have experienced a significant drop of up to 25%.

According to research conducted by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, this decline can be attributed to various factors such as habitat loss, climate change, and the use of pesticides. However, as Nature lovers, we can do our part to help by attracting birds to feed in our gardens. At Native Gardeners, we believe that native plants are the way to go because they provide food and shelter for birds. Here are some tips on how to attract birds to your garden.

Choose Native Plants

Native plants are the foundation of any bird-friendly garden. They have evolved with the local ecosystem and can provide food and shelter for birds. This means birds eat bugs. Different bugs temp different birds. Native plants attract a variety of insects which are an essential source of food for many bird species. Choose plants that bloom at different times of the year to ensure a continuous supply of food for birds. You can also choose plants of different heights to provide shelter and nesting sites for birds. What your landscape looks like, will determine who visits. Is your yard a Crow Haven or a Humminbird Castle? Learn about the birds you want to attract. What do they eat, and what plants can you add to the landscape to suit their needs? More lawn space typically means more grackles blackbirds. More greenery and flowers tend to attract more songbirds. Audobaun has some great profiles on local birds.

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    Provide a Water Source

    Birds need water for drinking and bathing. A shallow bird bath or a small pond with a shallow cove in your garden can attract birds. Ensure that the water source is clean and not too deep for small birds. You can also add rocks or pebbles to the water source to provide a landing place for birds. There are plenty of solar-powered fountain pumps to keep your bird bath from turning stagnant. And don’t forget the Mosquito Dunks (yes they do work!)

      Free Food

      Birds love to mooch. They are the perennial teenagers rummage in your garden for free snacks. Since birds can eat various foods (depending on their beaks) by providing them with various sources (such as fruits, seeds, insects, and even nectar), your garden can attract birds, especially during the months when food is scarce. this doesn’t mean just put up a feeder and wash your hands. Try growing some bird fruits, like Beautyberry in the shade or Possomhaw in the sun. (If you put up birdhouses, make sure to utilize host plants, such as Flame Acanthus, since caterpillars are the primary diet of baby birds.)

      If you use a feeder, ensure the feeders are cleaned and dry before adding fresh seed. This will help prevent the spread of diseases. Remember to wash your hands before and after refills.

        Annas Hummingbird on a nest

        Create Nesting Sites

        Birds need safe and secure places to build their nests. You can provide nesting sites by placing birdhouses, nest boxes, or even old tree stumps in your garden. Ensure that the nesting sites are sheltered from predators and are placed in a quiet area of your garden. Birds are skittish, so situating the birdhouse higher than seven feet will add an extra layer of protection from predators.

          Minimize the Use of Pesticides

          Pesticides can harm birds by killing the insects they feed on or by directly harming the birds themselves. Minimize the use of pesticides in your garden by using natural methods of pest control such as companion planting or introducing natural predators like ladybugs. We utilize an integrated pest management system at the nursery, to ensure our plants are Nature-safe. Plus we like the hi-fives we get from the butterflies. Check out Arbico for live supplies.

            Provide Shelter

            Birds need shelter from harsh weather conditions and predators. You can provide shelter by planting a variety of shrubs and trees in your garden. Choose plants that provide dense foliage and are safe for birds to perch on. However, some shrubs will produce a thicket that is too dense for birds to get into, research your desired birds to see what they like to shelter in.


            Attracting birds to your garden not only helps to increase their populations but also provides a beautiful and peaceful environment for you to enjoy. By following the tips above, you can create a bird-friendly garden that is beneficial to both birds and humans. 

            EXTRA CREDIT

            Here are my favorite birds to roost in the garden:

            Eastern Blue Bird
            Eastern Bluebird
            •   Although this is the most widespread of the three bluebirds, since the spread of suburbia, a high percentage of Eastern Bluebirds in North America nest in homeowner-built birdhouses. (birdhouse plans here) Some neighborhoods will put together 'bluebird trails' to attract more of these quiet garden sentinels. When they are not nesting, these birds roam the countryside in small flocks. image credit, Syd Phylips
            Northern Cardinal
            Northern Cardinal
            • The Northern Cardinal is a year-round resident of the South. They are known for their bright red plumage and can be seen feeding on sunflower, safflower, and suet. They are attracted to bird feeders, birdbaths, and Texas Persimmons. image credit, Andy Morffew
            Black-Chinned Hummingbird
            Black-Chinned Hummingbird
            • The Black-Chinned Hummingbird is the western counterpart of the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird. The species was named in 1846 to honor its discoverer – Dr Alexandre. It can be found in most types of habitats, including backyards, all over the western United States. It pumps its tail almost constantly while in flight and isn’t picky about what plants it takes nectar from. They love Desert Willows. image credit, Chuck Roberts
              FINAL THOUGHT: If you have a cat, make sure it stays inside or attach a few bells on its break-away collar, to alert birds about your sneaky cat. 


              Banner image credit, Ladderback Woodpecker by Gregory "Slobirdr" Smith