Backyard Birding: Encourage Feathered Friends Year-Round

If you enjoy spending time outdoors, there’s nothing more rewarding than observing the natural world around you.

One low-cost, low-impact way to do so is by encouraging birds to visit your backyard.

In today’s post, I’ll share some tips for creating a bird-friendly environment that will attract feathered friends year-round.

From providing food and water sources to creating the right habitat, I’ll cover everything you need to know to start backyard birding.

Let’s get started!

Providing Food

It is important to provide food for birds year-round, as it not only helps them survive but also attracts them to your backyard. There are many different types of bird feeders, each designed to hold different types of bird food.

One common type of feeder is the tube feeder, which is best used for black oil sunflower seed. This type of seed attracts a wide variety of birds, including chickadees, finches, and woodpeckers. Another option is the hopper feeder, which is typically larger in size and can hold a variety of seeds, such as millet, cracked corn, and safflower.

In addition to these seed feeders, there are also nectar feeders for hummingbirds and orioles, as well as suet feeders for woodpeckers and other birds that enjoy a high-fat diet. It is important to consider the types of birds that frequent your backyard when choosing the types of feeders and food you provide.

When filling your feeders, it is important to only provide a few days’ worth of food at a time to avoid spoilage and mold growth. It is also a good idea to clean your feeders regularly to prevent the spread of disease. A mixture of one part bleach to nine parts water can be used to sanitize feeders.

By providing a variety of feeders and food throughout the year, you can attract a diverse group of birds to your backyard and enjoy the beauty and excitement of backyard birding.

Water Source

Birds need a source of water to thrive, especially during the hot summer months. In addition to help birds maintain their health and hydration, a water source can also attract a wide variety of birds to your backyard.

There are many different types of birdbaths to choose from, including ground-level, pedestal, and hanging. Ground-level baths are ideal for robins, thrushes, and finches, while pedestal and hanging baths work better for small songbirds. Make sure to keep the water level shallow, about two inches at most, to avoid any accidental drowning.

When selecting a birdbath, it’s important to consider the material and location. Stone and concrete baths are durable but heavy and difficult to move whereas plastic baths are lightweight but can crack in the sun. Place the bath in a quiet area of your yard, preferably near some trees and bushes so birds have a place to perch and hide from potential predators.

Keep bird baths clean to prevent mold and bacteria from developing. Empty and refill birdbaths with fresh water every 2-3 days, especially in hot weather.

Finally, it’s important to bird proof your backyard. As much as water is essential for birds, it can also attract unwanted critters such as mosquitoes. Consider a product, like mosquito dunks, or pour half a teaspoon of bleach per gallon of water, or replace your water source with a drip feeder which can be less conducive to mosquito breeding.

Remember, a source of water is crucial for maintaining a thriving and diverse bird population in your yard.

Creating a Habitat for Birds in Your Backyard

Creating a welcoming habitat for birds in your backyard is essential to keeping them coming back. Trees, shrubs, and plants are important to provide food and shelter to your feathered friends.

Incorporating a variety of plants that provide food such as berries, seeds, and nectar is important. Some great plants to include in your bird habitat include sunflowers, pansies, lavender, honeysuckle, and roses. Shrubs such as viburnum and holly also provide an excellent source of food and cover.

When it comes to birdhouses, they should be placed near a food and water source. They should be set up about 5 feet above the ground in an area with good visibility. The size of the entrance should be chosen depending on the type of birds you wish to attract. For example, a hole with a diameter of 1 inch is suitable for chickadees, while a 2-inch opening is great for bluebirds.

When selecting a location for birdhouses, make sure they’re not in areas with excessive sun or wind exposure. Additionally, birdhouses should not be placed too close together to reduce competition between birds.

By creating an attractive habitat for birds, you’ll enjoy bird watching year-round!

Seasonal Bird Watching

Bird watching is a year-round activity that can bring joy any time of the year when watching birds come and go. As the seasons change, so do the types of birds you can expect to see in your area. In the springtime, you might see different types of birds migrating northward to their breeding grounds. Meanwhile, autumn is the time when birds begin to migrate southward, and we can see different types of birds preparing for their journey.

To attract different types of birds to your garden during different seasons, it’s important to put out different types of food. During the winter months when food is scarce, you can put out suet to help birds gain the calories they need. During the summer months when there is an abundance of food, you can put out sugar water to attract hummingbirds.

By planting different types of trees, shrubs, and plants that grow in your area, you will attract different types of birds that like those specific types of habitats. In the fall, planting sunflowers and other types of plants with seeds can attract birds that love to eat seeds, such as finches.

Overall, bird watching is a fantastic way to connect with nature year-round and see the beauty of birds all around us. By providing different types of food and habitats for birds throughout the year, you can make your garden a place where birds love to visit and make their home.

Binoculars, Field Guides, and Smartphone Applications

When it comes to backyard birding, having the right tools can make all the difference. Binoculars are a must-have item for any bird watcher, as they allow you to get a closer look at these feathered creatures. If you’re just starting out, a good pair of binoculars with a magnification of 8x or 10x and objective lenses of 40mm or 42mm will do the trick. Look for binoculars that are lightweight and easy to focus, as you’ll be using them for extended periods of time.

In addition to binoculars, having a field guide can be incredibly helpful for identifying different bird species. There are many great field guides out there, but some of the most popular options include “The Sibley Guide to Birds” and “The National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America”. These guides include detailed illustrations, range maps, and descriptions of different bird species, making it easy to identify what you’re looking at.

If you’re more tech-savvy, there are also a number of smartphone applications available for birding. Some popular options include “Merlin Bird ID” by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and “iBird Pro Guide to Birds”. These apps allow you to identify different bird species using your smartphone, making it easy to learn more about the creatures you’re watching.

No matter what tools you decide to use, the most important thing is to get outside and start exploring. You never know what feathered friends you might find in your own backyard!

Bird Watching Ethics

Bird watching is a wonderful hobby that brings people closer to nature, but it is important to engage in it responsibly. Here are some dos and don’ts for bird watching:

  • Do take your cues from birds. Respect their signals of distress, watch quietly from a distance, and avoid causing unnecessary stress.
  • Don’t trespass on private property or disturb animals in their natural habitats. Always follow public access policies and respect the boundaries of others.
  • Do respect other birders. Keep noise levels low, don’t scare away birds waiting for others to arrive, and share tips but avoid overcrowding.
  • Don’t bait or feed wild birds in inappropriate areas. Feeding birds with seed, suet or other human foods outside of your backyard can increase the risk of disease transmission amongst birds and put local wildlife at risk.
  • Do get informed and stay current on local wildlife regulations and laws. Cross-check scientific names before sharing sightings to avoid common mistakes that can damage bird records. Remember that the welfare of birds always comes first, and responsible bird watching depends on respecting and preserving natural ecosystems.

Protecting Against Predators

Birds, especially smaller species, can be vulnerable to predators such as cats, hawks, and snakes. As someone who is interested in backyard birding, it’s important to take steps to protect our feathered friends from these dangers.

One way to protect birds is by making sure your bird feeders are situated in a location that is difficult for predators to access. For example, you can place your bird feeder high up in a tree or suspended from a wire rather than on a low branch or on the ground.

Another way to protect birds is by using baffles, which are essentially barriers that prevent predators from reaching the bird feeder. Baffles can take many forms, such as plastic domes or mesh cages. These can be attached above the feeder or around the pole that it sits on.

It’s also important to monitor the area around your bird feeder to make sure that there aren’t any hiding places for predators. For example, make sure that there are no bushes or shrubs too close to the bird feeder or that the bird feeder isn’t positioned right next to a tree where a cat could hide.

Lastly, it’s important to stay vigilant if you have a birdhouse in your yard. Birds that are nesting can also be vulnerable to predators, especially if the birdhouse isn’t in a high and secure location. It’s a good idea to check on birdhouses regularly to make sure they’re still secure.

By taking these simple steps, you can help protect the birds that visit your backyard and ensure that they can continue to thrive in a safe environment.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, backyard birding is an excellent way to connect with nature and learn about local wildlife.

By providing food, water, and shelter, as well as taking steps to protect against predators, you can create a welcoming environment for feathered friends year-round.

So, which strategy from today’s post are you going to try first?

I’d love to hear about your experiences with backyard birding and any tips that you might have.

Please send me a message and let me know!

And if you found this post helpful, please share it on social media so that others can benefit from this information too!

Author: Scott Sanders


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