24 Jun

Attracting Birds to your Yard

Duck Family

If you want to attract birds to your backyard there are four things you should strive to provide…food, moisture, cover and housing.

We enjoy watching a variety of birds all year long. 

Food:

Backyard bird feeders really do the trick when trying to attract birds to your yard.  I have found that 2 feeders (one with black oil sunflower seed and one with thistle seed) attract a large variety of birds.  Our feeders are over a mulched area where the ground feeders like Mourning Doves can easily access the fallen seed.  We get our share of other wildlife visiting the feeder station as well…chipmunks and squirrels both get their share.  We fill the feeders every day or so.  When we look outside, we like to think that we have lots of pet birds…they just live outside.  Sometimes there are up to 10 or 12 at the feeder station at a time.  In the winter, consider adding a suet feeder to the mix for the woodpeckers.

Plants that provide food are also very important.  Many plants provide fruits that may attract varieties of birds that you don’t normally see at a backyard seed feeder.  Plants in my garden that birds use as a food source include:  serviceberry (2), currants (2), gooseberry (1), coneflower (10), rudbeckia (15), juniper (7), penstemon (5), bee balm (5), goldenrod (many), cosmos (very very many), cleome (6), coreopsis (many), aster (2), blueberry (6), blackberry (3), raspberry (3), beautyberry (2), smooth sumac (many), hackberry(3), flowering dogwood (3), kousa dogwood (1), sweetgum(1), wild cherry (2),  agastache (many), trumpet honeysuckle (6), butterfly bush (1), salvia greggii (many), columbine (5), marigold (many), sweet cherry (1), sour cherry (1), grape (1),  sunflower (3),  Plus I am sure there are others, as I have over 200 species of plants in my garden.

Moisture:

We have a bird bath that we fill with fresh water every day.  In the winter there is a heater to keep the water from freezing.  We are very diligent about always having fresh available water.  During the summer we have an additional fountain. 

Cover:

We have so many trees and shrubs for cover…there are always at least 4 nests in our 6’ tall knock out rose hedge, and nests in each of the 4 arbors as well with families of robin, Carolina wren, cardinals and sparrows.  We have groupings of evergreens…yew hedges and upright junipers (our grouping of 7 upright juniper attract many birds) and a few arborvitae, and our large burning bush is a favorite…a flock of birds rests there each night…we have a large stand of smooth sumac, we have an entire hillside (1500SF) of perennials and grasses in a natural meadow type garden for ground birds (ducks have nested there).    The privet hedge near the feeders is a popular resting spot for the birds as well.  We are on the edge of a wooded area, so there are large trees on our property…natives such as hackberry, bitternut hickory, oaks, shagbark hickory, black mulberry, and red maple. 

Houses:

We have 2 bird houses for small birds such as sparrows.  They have residents each year.  We have bought the materials and are planning on building an owl house this fall.

Birds I have identified in the yard from 2001-1010…Location St. Louis, Missouri suburbs

American Goldfinch

Barred Owl

Black Capped Chickadee

Bluebird

BlueJay

Cardinal

Carolina Wren

Cedar Waxwing

Chipping Sparrow

Coopers Hawk

Downy Woodpecker

Duck

European Tree Sparrow

Grackle

Great Horned Owl

House Finch

Mockingbird

Mourning Dove

Red Tailed Hawk

Rose Breasted Grosbeak

Ruby Throated Hummingbird

Snowbird

Tufted Titmouse

Turkey

Update 6/25/10 – new bird sighting in yard! Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher!

Below are all photo’s I’ve taken of birds in our own backyard… click on the photo to see a larger version.

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