Bright yellow goldfinches fill the tube feeder hanging over the brick patio, while others tug and pull on the gangly sunflowers hoping to loosen a seed or two. The songbirds sing a symphony as they flit from feeder to feeder in search of the perfect seed.
Does this sound too good to be true? It’s not. This peaceful winged haven is as close as your own backyard. Creating a garden that welcomes birds and butterflies may seem a daunting task, but the principles are simple. Any landscape can become a haven for wildlife if three basic things are provided: food, water, and shelter.
The following 8 steps can help even the novice gardener design a backyard full of winged delights.
1. Choose a wide variety of plants
Creating a backyard that welcomes birds is easy if you remember the way to a bird’s heart is through its stomach. Wildlife-friendly yards and gardens are filled with a variety of berries, seeds, and flowers from plantings of annuals, perennials, vines, and grasses.
While weeds aren’t normally welcomed in gardens, many weeds such as Queen Anne’s lace, black-eyed Susans, native asters, goldenrods, milkweeds, and yarrows attract birds and butterflies because of their seeds, nectar, or the insects they attract.
2. Choose a variety of nectar-rich blossoms
The best way to attract butterflies and hummingbirds is to have a variety of plants that are covered profusely with sweet nectar flowers. Cosmos, zinnias, verbena, fuschia, and cleome are easy-to-grow annuals that attract both species. Butterflies are especially fond of butterfly bush and purple coneflowers.
Bee balm is a hardy perennial that hummers find hard to resist. Hummingbirds are particularly attracted to red-hued flowers like geraniums, petunias, pineapple sage, and impatiens.
Don’t be surprised to find an oriole or two lingering around the nectar-rich blossoms. Orioles feed on many of the same plants that attract hummingbirds such as trumpet vines, honeysuckle, and daylilies.
3. Plant some trees and shrubs
A home for winged wildlife requires a variety of evergreen trees and shrubs, including pines, firs, spruces, junipers, cedars, and yews. Not only do trees and shrubs produce edible seeds and nuts, but also they provide essential hunting grounds for insect eaters. Many birds search the flowers and foliage of trees and eat the insects they find.
4. Make sure the birds have shelter
Birds need shelter. Mature trees and shrubs provide safety and security, as well as nesting sites to raise young birds. Nest boxes are used by several varieties of birds, both as nesting sites and as shelters during the winter. They can be fitted to walls or trees but should be out of reach of predators such as raccoons, squirrels, and especially cats.
5. Have fresh, clean water available
Birds need water, not only to drink, but also to bathe in for the health and maintenance of their feathers. Butterflies need water, too. A birdbath is a great starting point, but adding a fountain, waterfall, or sprayer (hummingbirds especially enjoy this) will add the sights and sound of moving water, attracting even more birds.
6. Add some feeders
To attract the widest variety of birds, it’s best to use several different kinds of feeders at various heights. Some birds, such as mourning doves, are ground feeders. Woodpeckers, nuthatches, and chickadees like suet feeders.
Nectar mix for hummingbird feeders can be purchased at most garden supply stores or can be made by boiling one part sugar in four parts water, replacing the mixture at least once a week. Orioles and butterflies will make occasional visits to hummingbird feeders, as well.
7. Be consistent
If you want the birds to remain in your backyard, consistency is a must. They will come to depend on both the feeders and the fresh water source you supply.
8. Provide a wide variety of seed
A seed mix of black oil sunflower, millet, and safflower attracts a wide variety of birds. Specialty seed such as Niger thistle attracts vibrant yellow goldfinches. Your local bird seedery can advise what to use in your area.
Enjoy the view
Place the bird feeders where they can be seen from inside your home so you can take in the colorful display. Now it time to sit back, relax, and enjoy the viewing pleasure of your backyard haven.
Decorate a tree for the birds
Decorating a tree for the birds around the holidays is a fun activity for children and adults.
Pinecones and bagels spread with peanut butter and rolled in a wild birdseed blend are a real treat for the wildlife in your backyard.
Other things that can be strung and placed on trees outside include popcorn, fresh cranberries, fresh orange slices, and dried apples.
In addition, peanuts in the shell and whole walnuts can be scattered under the tree.
20 flowers that attract hummingbirds
These garden flowers will fill your backyard with brilliant color, while attracting hummingbirds to sample their sweet nectar. Once hummingbirds have found your yard, it won’t take them long to discover the feeder, especially if it’s placed among red flowers.