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Attract Birds to the Backyard

The sight and sound of birds in the yard reconnects us to the wonder and beauty of nature. Providing food, water and shelter can bring the joy of our feathered friends into outdoor spaces.

dahoon hollyLeave behind the standard palette of trees and shrubs that characterize many urban landscapes. Rather, choose trees and shrubs that provide food and shelter to birds. Here are just a few to consider:

Hawthorns – The thorniness of these trees provide excellent protection for birds nesting in their strong branches. In spring, their abundance of blooms attracts a wide variety of pollinators. The size of the fruits vary with different species of hawthorn. For instance, the yellow haw (Crataegus flava) has large fruit suitable for larger birds, while the littlehip hawthorn (C. spathulata) produces small fruit for even the smallest of the fruit-eating birds.

Hollies – When most other fruiting trees are bare of fruit in winter, hollies provide abundant berries in the fall and hold them well into winter to provide food for migratory and resident songbirds. Dahoon holly is a versatile tree for many landscape settings, from dry, sunny locations to moist woodlands. It is even moderately salt tolerant.

Viburnums – This family of large shrubs are adaptable to a wide range of landscape situations. The dense foliage and branching provide excellent nesting opportunities for birds. Flowers bloom in spring to summer and are followed by purple fruits in late summer and fall that are enjoyed by many birds.

Songbird at a tube feeder. Photo by Thomas Wright, UF/IFAS.

Do you want to attract birds right away? While you wait for new plantings to mature and provide food, put out a few bird feeders. There are a wide variety from which to choose. Tube, hopper and platform feeders can be filled with a variety of seed mixes. Suet feeders are constructed of a heavy gauge wire and hold a solid cake of animal fat with seeds, nuts, grains or fruits. Nectar feeders cater to hummingbirds. Fruit feeders are made to hold large pieces of fruit, like apples and oranges. The type of feeder and food you offer will determine the species or type of birds you will attract.

Don’t forget a bird bath. Birds need a clean water source, so remember to rinse it on a regular basis.

Think twice about attracting birds, though, if you let your cats run free. Cats are dangerous to our bird populations. But if they are strictly housecats, they will love to watch the birds through the windows or porch screens as much or even more than you will.

For more information:

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: Backyard Bird Feeding

Attracting Backyard Birds: Bird Feeder Selection


2 Comments on “Attract Birds to the Backyard

  1. I enjoyed the article. Now if I can figure out how to keep squirrels away, I’ll be all set.

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