Birds need three things, food, water and shelter. By providing these three things, you are sure to enjoy more birds as they nest and raise a family, display their vivid colors and sing their lively songs. Another benefit is that they control the population of mosquitoes and insects that attack plants.
Birds need food year round. Deciduous plants whose leaves drop off in winter bear the most fruit, nuts and seeds. Evergreens with leaves throughout the year offer a good source of berries and seed filled cones as well as protection. Close cropped lawns, trimmed shrubs and deadheaded flowers do not provide a friendly landscape to birds. Consider less lawn and more natives, grasses and other plantings. Wide expanses of turf encourage pigeons, starlings, cowbirds and grackles which compete with native songbirds.
While different seeds attract different birds. Sunflowers and thistle are favorite seeds. Sparrows, robins, towhees and doves prefer to eat on the ground. cracked corn and millet work well for them. Planting plants such as sunflower, black-eyed Susan, goldenrod, butterfly bush, larkspur and thistle will attract a variety of birds.
Garden organically to attract birds and butterflies. Pesticides kill the insects that are food for insectivorous birds. A poisoned insect will poison the birds. Using native plants will reduce the need for insecticide.
Placing birdbaths or containers of water around your garden will provide necessary water for your birds. Be sure to empty often to avoid mosquitoes and place a rock or other item in the water for a landing spot.
Birds need shelter from weather, extreme heat or cold and high winds as well as shelter from predators. If you do not have trees on your property, consider a brush pile of tree branches and woody plants.
Few homeowners leave dead trees on their property which are used for nesting habitat for the cavity dwellers. Depending on the birds in your area, a birdhouse may fill the bill. See Lind Design Birdhouses for suggestions.
To help your bird friends find suitable nesting material, fill a basket with twigs, grasses, hair, spider webs, feathers, lichen, spanish moss, aspen fibers or bits of fabric or strings. Attach the basket near your birdhouse. Make sure any string is 3 inches or shorter so that birds so not become entangled. Never use plastic or nylon or dryer lint which can have detergent residue on it.
Spending time to make your garden a bird friendly place will result in more birds and a satisfying feeling for you and your family.