Birds seem to bring peace and an appreciation for nature, even in the heart of a city. Find out how to make a beautiful, inviting oasis for your backyard birds.
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Backyard Birds – 7 Steps to Create an Inviting Oasis for Them
- Plant trees and bushes
- Plant natural bird food
- Have a water source
- Have a few well-placed feeders
- Keep the cats inside
- Enjoy from a distance
- Keep your yard chemical-free
I’ve had a deep love for birds since I was a toddler. I shared this love with my grandmas and my parents, who gladly pointed out different breeds and took joy in showing me how to take care of birds’ needs.
Growing up, it was sometimes the only thing that took my mind off of all those growing up worries. I found immense joy in finding new species, seeing babies, and enjoying their beauty as they lived their lives.
Here I will share what has changed my yard into a “regular” bird attracting yard to a yard that attracts numerous species. Migratory birds, and rare birds alike – taking the term backyard birds to a whole new level of joy.
1. Plant trees and bushes
A yard with no trees or shrubs planted will attract very little backyard birds. They need to feel secure, and having trees and bushes will give them that security.
If your yard is bare, then start out with a couple of bushes and trees and go from there.
Where we live now was totally bare when it was first bought, now it’s filled with trees all throughout our property. We have mostly pine trees, maples, oaks, and a couple of poplars and other varieties.
A few of our trees were saved out of a farmer’s field or a place it would have been destroyed. Several were ones that just started growing and were left.
My house is surrounded by lilac bushes and plenty of others like the Spicebush and a couple of other random bushes.
I’ve found our pine trees to be a backyard birds’ favorite choice. Many different species nest in them here, and they love to hide in them during storms or sleep in them at night.
We also have nests in our maple trees. Our biggest maple tree is a favorite of our backyard birds to rest in. I have bluebird nest boxes in the backyard, and both parents will sit in that tree often to watch over their nest.
Birds of all kinds will go to and from the bushes and trees while visiting feeders.
They are a must to invite backyard birds to your yard!
Some of their favorites include:
- Lilac bushes
- Pine trees
- Oak and Maple trees
- Red Mulberry
- Wild Black Cherry
- Flowering Dogwood
And quite honestly, many more! They love the bushes and trees that provide berries for them and will sit in almost any tree.
Research what grows best in your area and get planting! 🙂
2. Plant natural bird food
You’ll gain a lot of new backyard birds simply by planting several different variations of flowers, and even fruit.
The trick is to let them go to seed, or at least some of them (especially in the fall!) so the birds can enjoy their harvest!
Also, by having different flowers and plants, you are attract a wide variety of insects that live on them or eat the nectar.
This naturally brings on a lot of birds, including those who are feeding babies and fledglings!
Some favorites of birds that I observe in my own flower gardens are:
- Black-eyed Susan
I’m sure there are plenty more, these are just the ones I observed.
The surprising one to me was my clematis. I have these pretty vines growing up against my back and front deck, and one day I noticed a couple of Tufted Titmice having a buffet on the seeds!
Have fun with experimenting, you never know which backyard birds may stop to visit because of your cool collection.
A bonus is that all flowers are gorgeous and happy! 🙂
3. Have a water source
I love my neighbor’s ponds. It’s always fun to see such a huge variety stop in to drink there, including the bigger birds like herons, egrets, and turkey vultures.
You don’t have to have a pond to attract more backyard birds. A nice birdbath will do!
Placement is key, though. If you have it out in the middle of your yard with no tree or bush nearby to hide in, they will likely rarely use it.
I have a heated birdbath in the front of my deck right next to a big lilac bush.
I also have my grandparents’ cement birdbath next to my back deck, surrounded by plants and trees.
Hummingbirds and others would absolutely love a running water source.
You can also purchase a solar-powered bubbler as an add-on to any birdbath. Just make sure the birdbath is big enough. I put my bubbler in a half-size birdbath, and it bubbled it’s way out of it and burned out on the ground. Haha oops.
Please keep your birdbath clean for your backyard birds! This is essential! I change mine every 2-3 days. Not only for cleanliness, but mosquitoes will lay their eggs in the water. You’ll see little tadpole-looking creatures in there!
4. Have a few well-placed feeders
Nothing welcomes birds into your yard like feeders! As with birdbaths, though, having them way out in the open will attract very little.
Birds need to feel safe, and cover provides that for them.
I have three shepherds hooks in my front yard with squirrel baffles specially made for the hook.
I only feed sunflower and safflower seeds in these.
I have them placed to keep squirrels and house sparrows off them. The squirrels get corn cobs every day, anyway!
I love my bigger birds like blue jays and red-winged blackbirds, so they can eat what they want. I don’t get too many, though, because I put safflower in the easy-to-get feeders. These birds don’t care for that seed. I’ll also occasionally feed them peanuts.
I get a huge variety of birds all season long, and it makes me happy. If I’m not careful, I’ll spend hours photographing them, watching, and observing their behaviors. I love my birds!
I keep my feeders clean, and again, placement is everything!
Note that if you feed that mixed birdseed and if you’re in the “right” area, you’ll get a lot of house sparrows or possibly some other birds you may not want on your feeders.
And if you love the house sparrow? Then, by all means, feed them. Attracting birds is a personal pleasure. 🙂
5. Keep the cats inside
Nothing will deter birds from coming to your yard than predators. And cats are their main predators, killing approximately 2.4 billion birds a year.
This is very bad news for backyard birds!
Please, keep your cats inside. I love cats and have two myself, but preying on my birds for fun is not allowed.
I grew up when almost everyone’s mindset was letting cats go outside and do whatever they wanted.
Thankfully that has changed a bit. People are beginning to realize that cats are perfectly happy inside, and much, much safer.
Outside cats are susceptible to so many more diseases, cars, predators, and getting lost or stolen than any indoor cat will ever have to face.
The world is too busy now, no cat is safe outside. That’s why “feral” cats normally don’t live as long as their indoor cousins.
Nothing would be more heartbreaking than watching a cat play with a bluebird to death, which was about to feed his babies in your nest box. Many baby birds die this way, and it will NOT be happening in my yard!
6. Enjoy from a distance
I’ve seen way too many well-meaning people completely scare birds away by trying to get too close to take pictures or look closer at them.
I get it, you want to get a closer look. If my world was perfect, I would be able to kiss and hug every bird that comes into my yard, haha!
Other than that, I leave them be and enjoy them and their antics.
I know I miss a ton of awesome pictures, simply because I know if I move, I will scare them, and I’d rather just watch and enjoy.
I have bobolinks, savannah sparrows, meadowlarks, and other birds that nest in our hayfields (we don’t cut until they are done nesting!). I don’t have many pictures because I don’t want to disturb them.
I mostly watch through my binoculars.
I swear they end up trusting you, though. Over the years, many of my visiting backyard birds will just sit there while I walk by or fill feeders. It’s like they know I am safe and that I love them to pieces. 🙂
7. Keep your yard chemical-free
Pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and rodenticides will ensure you have a very quiet yard.
This means not many backyard birds.
And if you do have them, you are likely poisoning them if you use these things in your yard.
They are absolutely forbidden in my yard. My husband has graciously allowed me to show him new ways of using natural or organic things if needed, as he was raised like so many – to use pesticides and all of the other chemicals.
These things are completely toxic and poisonous to all things living.
Let’s just say that you use weed killer on your dandelions. Honeybees come to eat nectar, and they die. Or, you spray your grass with Weed and Feed. The nearby ditch gets leftover spray that the wind blows over to it. The caterpillars feeding on vegetation ingest this chemical.
A bird comes along to eat the caterpillar and gets poisoned, thereby dying. Or, if I allowed rodenticides to be used here, a mouse would eat it, go out and die in a field, and an owl would eat the mouse, thereby getting poisoned.
Unfortunately, it happens all of the time. Besides extreme poisoning, there is a grave decline of insects for the food chain. It’s a full circle.
Amazingly, if you allow nature to take its course while planting the proper native plants to attract what birds would naturally eat, it all evens out.
You have more birds in your bird-friendly yard, an even amount of insects, less destruction to your plants, and everyone is happy. 🙂
Bonus attractants and pluses.
If you have the room and a willing husband, you can leave some wonderful bonuses to make your yard even more bird-friendly.
If you have a dead tree on your property, it’s perfect for leaving it for your birds, and other things!
Caterpillars, butterflies, moths, and other insects will overwinter under the bark of your dead tree. This is beneficial for their life cycle. While also providing a nice meal in the middle of winter for your birds.
We had a small-to-medium size wild cherry tree by our chicken coop that never came back after winter.
Even though he would rather cut it down, my husband was awesome to listen to my pleas to leave it.
I have seen everything from hummingbirds to green herons perched on it, including lots of fledglings.
Woodpeckers and nuthatches peck around on it, and it seems to be a place for stopping and resting to so many.
I have green herons that nest in my pine trees, and this dead tree is the first place they go when they leave the nest.
On the other hand, larger trees can be used as nesting cavities for birds ranging from chickadees to owls or even squirrels.
Dead trees are amazing.
Also, if you can leave a small pile of brush in your yard, birds will love to hide in it or use it for shelter.
Cardinals and house wrens (among others!) may snap off twigs for their nests, and many backyard birds will feel comfortable there.
Please be aware that your neighbor’s outdoor cats may hide in there too. Or, if grass and dead leaves accumulate under it, it could invite disgusting ticks, and you’d never want in your yard. So that’s something to consider or watch out for as well.
You could even have a nest box or two if you have the room and the proper, safe place.
Always research proper placement and nest box hole size to attract certain backyard birds.
I have had the pleasure to host bluebirds, house wrens, and tree swallows to my boxes. It’s always so exciting.
You may also have to monitor your boxes, depending on your area. The aggressive and non-native house sparrow may try to kill your precious natives and take over the nest.
How to monitor is another article but the rewards I get from having these beautiful natives as my backyard birds make my heart smile. 🙂
Even on the saddest or most upsetting days, watching my carefree, beautiful birds sing and live their little lives right in my yard makes me smile.
I hope this article was helpful for you to attract more backyard birds! What kinds would you like to see in your yard? Please comment below, I’d love to hear. 🙂