Birdscape for Spring — Attracting the Birds You Want in Five Easy Steps

Birdscaping your yard provides a natural habitat for birds to visit on a consistent basis. By planting native flowers for food, bushes for shelter and providing a clean water source, you can easily attract your favorite birds. You may be surprised as to how much you already have to offer!

This approach has several advantages over just placing bird feeders around:
Birdseed can be expensive and sometimes attract less desirable visitors like squirrels and even some nuisance birds that seem to get the lion share of the feed.
Birdscaping takes advantage of native species of flowers that the birds are programmed to seek out and native plants are better for the overall environment surrounding your property.
Native plants, flowers and bushes need little maintenance where feeders need constant filling and cleaning.
Attracting birds to your space helps control bugs and pest populations.

Birdscaping your space will be different depending on your geography and the types of birds you want to attract. A bit of research on your part and identifying your likes and dislikes will be key to a successful project. Someone in Portland, Oregon, will have a different profile than someone in Tampa, Florida. It is therefore important to know at least a bit about your area and the space you are trying to drive bird traffic to.

The following steps should help you get started.

1) Identify what birds are local to your region. For those in consistently warmer climates, the bird population may be constant. Those in the Northeast of the U.S., however, see a more seasonable influx of birds that changes periodically. Keep in mind that all climates have some resident birds as well as more transitory species.

2) Now that you know what birds exist around you, and come up with a list of what species appeal to you. Starlings are numerous in most places and can overwhelm a space whereas finches may be more desirable and therefore a breed you want to attract. Depending on your region, find out what attracts the birds you want to see and plant accordingly.

3) Take an inventory of your yard. What plants, flowers and bushes currently take up residence? Are they going to add or subtract from your objective? Do you have plants that act as food in concert with those that provide shelter from predators? Both are important. A bird may love sunflowers and the seeds they produce, but if they are planted in the middle of an open space, birds may be weary of cats on the ground or hawks up above. By planting the same sunflowers in close proximity to a hedge or group of trees, the birds will be more secure and likely feed from those flowers.

4) Native plants and flowers are more likely to attract what you are after. The birds know based on region what they want and need to survive. Invasive plants are detrimental to the area as they can cannibalize native species both at the root level and at levels where sunlight can be blocked. Know what you have. A bit of maintenance in the beginning along with a bit of upkeep can go a long way.

5) A constant, clean water source is a sure bet to attract birds. This can be anything from a well-maintained birdbath to a back yard water feature like a fountain. It is extremely important that these are kept clean as dirty water can spread disease in bird populations. Your local home improvement store or those businesses that specialize in birds have many options available.

6) A budget for what you need to plant and basic landscaping is always a good idea. You may do the work yourself or hire a professional landscaper to install your vision.

Just remember: Birds need food, shelter for hiding and water. The end result will be a sanctuary for birds, butterflies and others to enjoy over the neighbors who just offer a cheap bird feeder. Happy Birdscaping!

* For more information on attracting birds, visit http://www.audubon.org/