Birds in the Backyard

Water is essential for all life and birds are no exception. Incorporate a birdbath into your landscape and your new friends will use it to put on quite a show! Birds don’t fly well after bathing so be sure to place your birdbath near trees or shrubbery that offer a safe place for birds to dry off.

Bird food is another important factor in attracting birds. Different foods will attract different species to your yard. For instance, Safflower seeds are preferred by Cardinals and Mourning Doves while Niger attracts the Goldfinch. If you’re looking for one type of seed to feed all your backyard birds, Black-oil Sunflower seeds are the best choice. These Sunflower seeds will attract the greatest variety of birds to your feeder.

Besides providing store-bought seed to feed the birds, consider planting flowers and fruit trees in your yard to provide natural habitats for visiting birds. Plant Bachelor Buttons, Calendula, Poppies, Cosmos, Marigolds, Dianthus, Sunflowers and Zinnias in your annual gardens. Asters, Black-eyed Susan, Columbine and Coneflowers are great seed-producing perennials that birds enjoy.

Use a birdhouse and gather nesting materials such as short pieces of yarn, pet fur, feathers, moss, twigs and dried grass to entice birds to build nests in your yard. There are a variety of birdhouses available for specific species.

Your landscape can be designed to include trees and shrubs that offer much needed protection for songbirds. They help block wind and weather from birds as well as provide a place to hide from predators. Popular shrubs used for bird shelters are Dogwoods, Elderberry, Viburnum, Junipers, Holly and Serviceberry. Grape vines, Quince and Trumpet vines are also great choices that benefit birds and add ambiance to your yard.

Larger trees are another essential element for bird habitat. Consider planting Ash, Birch, Hemlock, Oak, Pine, Maple and Beech trees in your yard. These are all native plants that will be healthier for your landscape and better suited for the birds. Leave a few dead limbs or dead trees in place as they offer birds additional food sources and nesting sites.

To learn more about backyard birding, visit Skillins Greenhouses in Cumberland, Brunswick or Falmouth. You can also call us at 1-800-348-8498 for more information or to inquire about our free classes on gardening topics including ‘Birding in the Backyard.’

- By Terry Skillin, Skillins Greenhouses

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