How To Draw Songbirds to Your Backyard

How To Draw Songbirds to Your Backyard

One of the joys of spring and summer is waking up to the sweet sound of birdsongs. But what if your outdoor soundtrack noticeably lacks the tunes of robins, blue jays, and other songbirds?

Maybe that’s because you’ve spent the past few summers creating your dream garden without realizing you need to actively lure natural companions to visit. And if that’s so—or you simply want to up the birdsong around you—you’ve come to the right place.

We asked the bird-loving garden experts for their best tips on creating the ultimate songbird haven in your backyard. Then we came up with this must-have list—from the kinds of flowers to plant to the bird accessories to buy.

Here are the ways to ensure your local songbirds find your garden and stick around all season long.

Create a layered landscape

How To Draw Songbirds to Your Backyard

Our first tip for creating a birdsong-filled garden this summer? Add some extra depth and layers to your garden and surrounding landscape.

“By creating vegetation layers of varying heights, you’ll provide different levels of foraging and nesting opportunities, enticing a diverse range of songbirds,” says Kelsey Waddell of Wild Bird Scoop. The goal is to replicate the ideal landscapes birds find in nature.

So add tall trees for perching and nesting, medium-sized shrubs for cover and berries, and low-growing plants for ground-dwelling insects.

Plant a bird-friendly garden

In addition to adding greenery of varying sizes, the types of plants you bring into your garden can also help attract birds—especially if you choose to include pollinators and flowers with lots of seeds.

“Sunflowers are a favorite of mine, and they’re highly attractive to a variety of bird species, including finches, sparrows, and chickadees,” says Waddell. “Consider planting different varieties of sunflowers with varying sizes and colors to cater to different bird species.”

Another flower she likes to include in her bird gardens? Echinacea, also known as purple coneflower. These flowers produce large seed heads that are a valuable food source at the end of the season.

Other plants to consider are vines like honeysuckle or Virginia creeper and shrubs with berries like elderberry and serviceberry.

Go for a variety of feeders

Besides creating a naturally appealing space your avian friends can enjoy, it’s also a good idea to provide several bird feeders with various foods to choose from. This will help ensure you attract a more extensive range of songbirds.

“Feeders should ideally be hung at different heights and places to cater to different bird species,” says bird guide Tommy Wilde, of Floofmania. “Some birds prefer feeding near the ground, whereas others prefer when they’re a bit higher up.”

Wilde also recommends placing feeders where potential predators can’t get them—like your house cat. Another bit of advice? Offer up a variety of bird food, rather than just one kind.

“Include black oil sunflower seeds, nyjer seed for finches, suet cakes, and mealworms,” says Wilde. Tasty!

If you’re buying commercial bird food, stick to organic brands, which don’t contain unnatural additives.

Add a water source

Another thing your neighborhood birds will thank you for is a cool spot to get a drink (or take a bath) on a hot summer day.

“Both birdbaths and fountains will work,” says Aaditya Bhatta, founder of Plantscraze. “Birdbaths should have a shallow basin with a sloping edge for access, and adding a feature that moves the water will attract even more birds.”

If you add some water sources to your songbird paradise, just be sure you can keep them clean. Stagnant water can become a breeding ground for mosquitoes, while very old water can harbor disease.

Provide plenty of shelter

If you’ve successfully created a layered landscape, you’ve already accomplished quite a bit in building a natural bird shelter.

But there’s still more you can do.

“Consider installing birdhouses or nesting boxes designed specifically for certain bird species, and leave natural debris like fallen leaves and brush piles,” says Waddell. This will create hidden spots for birds while also providing a place for them to forage food.

Keep things safe

Natural environments tend to take care of themselves—trees shed leaves, streams flow, and nests disintegrate. But whenever you add something to this mix, like a birdhouse or a birdbath, you’ll need to take extra care to ensure it’s in a good state for the birds.

“The No. 1 mistake to avoid when attracting birds to your yard is neglecting the cleanliness and hygiene of your feeders, birdhouses, and birdbaths,” says Waddell.

Dirty feeders harbor mold, bacteria, and parasites, which can be harmful, and ditto with old nesting boxes.

One last thing you might want to consider? Make your windows bird-friendly. After all, if you’re going to attract the birds to your yard, it’s only fair to create the safest environment possible.

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