In 2017, about 117.6 million Americans did some kind of gardening. Clearly, a huge number of people enjoy the beauty of plants, and the same group of people likely cares about nature in general. Yet sometimes, we construct gardens and lawns purely based on what we think might look good and fail to consider other garden dwellers’ needs.
Birds can especially benefit from a conscientious garden and yard. Make your garden a community of feathered friends by following these tips:
- Incorporate Native Plants
The best plants for local birds are local plants! Songbirds and other species have already adapted to the flora of the region, and they know which plants they can go to for food and shelter. The National Wildlife Federation recommends incorporating a mixture of wild species that bear seeds, nuts, and berries for bird diets, and recommends trees like spruces and pines for providing natural shelter.
- Provide Water All Year
Another essential step in caring for birds in your yard is providing a source of water. Birds need shallow water sources for drinking and bathing, even in the winter. Find a birdbath heater for the colder months and remember to change the water every two or three days. Additionally, fountains and trickling water seem to especially attract birds, which is why Audubon recommends incorporating moving water into your garden bird paradise.
- Don’t Use Insecticides
Insecticides reduce the number of bugs available for birds to eat, deterring key species from choosing your garden for their meals. If you ditch the bug-killing chemicals altogether, you might be surprised how well birds themselves keep the bugs at bay.
- Embrace the Mess
Though it may go against you landscaping instincts, a messy yard provides extra shelter for birds during storms. This growth is especially helpful for fostering young birds just learning to fly. Keep a brush pile in the corner of your yard, and leave fallen trees where they lay when possible. Denser vegetation mimics a bird’s natural habitat, and less lawn space means birds won’t have to expose themselves to predators. If you’re fond of a neat and orderly landscape, consider leaving bird-friendly sections in the backyard while keeping the front neat for your own enjoyment.
By working to make your yard more like a bird’s natural home, you can encourage greater bird biodiversity in your gardens and even protect endangered species. When in doubt, let it grow out for a backyard habitat both birds and bird-lovers will enjoy.