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How can I Attract Birds to my Yard?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 17, 2024
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Attracting birds to your yard is a matter of carefully considering landscaping, and providing the things that birds need in order to survive, or will simply enjoy. Obvious answers to how you can go about attracting birds to your yard include things like placing bird feeders and birdhouses of varying types on your property. Yet birds are less likely to use these if they can’t find the other things they would need to survive, nest and feed their young families.

You should think about the basic needs of birds and the types of birds you’d like to attract when planning a garden. For instance if you’d like to attract birds like hummingbirds to your property, then planting red and especially blue and purple flowers is likely to do the trick. You don’t even need a hummingbird feeder. Yet many birds rely on more than nectar and eat a varied diet of seeds, nuts, and insects in order to survive. They also need access to a small amount of water.

You should avoid gardening with pesticides or herbicides since many of these can harm birds, or cause them to produce young with unsurvivable birth defects. Further, pesticides tend to reduce insect population, which many birds need to survive. Also consider not allowing cats or dogs that hunt in any areas where you want to attract birds, since this will make for a very poor combination. You may end up only attracting birds to their deaths.

In planning out your yard to attract birds, consider the following in your garden:

  • A fruit bearing tree or two, like crabapples or chokecherries.
  • A few larger trees like firs, pines, nut trees, and trees that produce acorns.
  • An area devoted to grass.
  • An area planted with colored flowers like agapanthus, Mexican sage, lavender, and red flowers.
  • Some areas of the garden with open, easy to dig through dirt.
  • A birdbath, pond, or easily accessible fountain.
  • A couple of bird feeders containing millet.
  • Some high bird houses and if you’d like to attract birds that nest on the ground, consider some safe, camouflaged wooden boxes that would make ideal nests on the ground, perhaps surrounded by tall grasses.

Since you are most likely to attract birds to your garden that are native to your area, consider using only native plants. Research the birds local to your area to find out about their diets. Also, plan to vary plants so that you have ready supplies of food for birds that migrate through your area at certain times of the year. For example if you live in an area where persimmons are widely grown, have a persimmon tree to attract birds that visit in the winter and eat the fruit.

Do be aware that certain bird attractors, especially bird feeders and fruit trees can also attract other animals to your yard. You might find that bird feeders are impractical if local rats discover your feeder. On the other hand, squirrels and raccoons may be welcome visitors provided you always remember they are wild animals and need to be left alone. With birds, you should also remember that these animals prosper best when left alone. Never attempt to touch birds or remove young from nests, but instead, find a good vantage point to watch the parade of nature through your bird friendly yard.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By Mykol — On Jun 27, 2011

Wrens are one of my favorite song birds and I have some wren houses in some of the trees out in my yard. They will sing non-stop from dusk until dawn and have such a cheery song.

They are very hard workers and will work on their nests and feeding their young all day long. I have also put up a couple of blue bird houses hoping to attract some blue birds in the spring, but haven't had any luck with that yet.

You will find that once you begin attracting birds to your backyard, you will look forward to them every spring. When fall gets closer and the nights get cooler, I always miss the sound of the birds in the morning.

By andee — On Jun 26, 2011

Birds really like bushes and trees. They use these to build their nests and for protection from the weather. When we first moved to our house, there was no landscaping at all. One of the first things I did was plant some fast growing trees and shrubs.

This made a big difference in the number of birds I had in my yard. I love to hear the sound of birds singing and see them out in the yard. Another way to feed them is with suet. You can buy this in the store, but there are many places online where you can find recipes to make your own. It is much cheaper to make it yourself than buy it in the store.

Attracting wild birds to your yard can be an addicting activity and you will be surprised at how much enjoyment you receive from them.

By bagley79 — On Jun 25, 2011

One of the easiest ways to attract birds to your yard is to feed them. Even if you don't have a lot of trees or bushes, you will be surprised how many birds will find your feeder.

The type of food you have in your feeders will usually determine which kind of birds you will have. Many birds like sunflower seeds, but I always get a lot of cardinals if I have sunflower seeds in the feed.

It can get expensive to buy wild bird seed, because once they realize there is food there, they keep coming back and bringing their friends with them. I have found that buying the seed in bulk is much cheaper than purchasing small bags of food.

By ivanka — On Sep 01, 2008

Birds are a good thing in a garden. They control the insects, but when the fruit and ripens they can be in competition with the gardener.

The solution to that according to the Chinese is to hang onion slices in the fruit trees. The birds do not like the smell of onions. Also hanging colorful ribbons, or empty milk cartons will help.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
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