Tips to Create a Bird-Friendly Garden
There are many ways to experience the beauty nature has to offer. One of those ways is incorporating a bird-friendly garden right in our backyards.
In this post, I offer 6 tips on how you can design a bird-friendly garden right in your own backyard, which include planting native plants, providing a good water source, and incorporating different kinds of shelter.
Not only will your bird-friendly garden be attracting all kinds of bird species, but it will also be attracting other kinds of gorgeous wildlife for you to enjoy and cherish for a long time!
Be Sure to Have a Water Source
Birds have no difficulties finding water, but there is no harm in providing them with a good water source as an alternative. Standing or Dripping Bird Baths with a roughened surface for a “no slip” experience are favored by songbirds. Be sure to clean them monthly with soap and warm water in order to remove any litter that has fallen or bacteria that has formed.
If you notice that there are not many birds visiting your bird bath, experiment by moving the bird bath around to different spots in the yard. Also, be wary about whether there is cover or no cover. Birds love to have enough cover to retreat to, so the closer your bird bath is to trees or shrubs, the better!
Incorporate Native Plants
Be sure to always try and keep it native when it comes to your backyard and attracting wildlife, particularly birds.
Some bird-friendly native plant choices for the mid-Willamette Valley, all of which are available through Benton SWCD’s Winter 2022 Native Plant Sale:
- Big-leaf Maple
- Bleeding Heart
- Douglas Aster
- Douglas Spirea
- Hookedspur Violet
- Oregon White Oak
- Red Flowering Currant
- Showy Milkweed
- Tall Oregon Grape
- Vine Maple
Promote plant diversity; having an array of native plants will attract an array of bird species. Plant clusters of the same plant species together instead of spreading them out.
Avoid Nonnative Plants
Have Plenty of Cover
Cover is extremely important and probably one of the most important key elements when attracting songbirds to your backyard. Birds want to feel safe, and this means having a place where they can escape from predation while also having a place to roost and raise their young. Having a ton of tree cover and vertical structure not only provides birds with a safe habitat, but it also increases the variation of birds in your backyards. Different cover layers will bring along the different birds that favor those layers. For example, shrub layers are favored by species such as Grosbeaks, Towhees, and Thrushes while subcanopy layers are favored by species such as Juncos, Finches, and Hummingbirds. Species such as Siskins, Flickers, and Nuthatches enjoy the canopy layers.
Leave Dead Trees or Create a Brush Pile
Dead wood not only provides habitats for birds but also insects. The more insects in your yard, the more the birds will love to visit! Insects are especially important food for baby birds.
Brush piles are beneficial and well-loved by species such as Sparrows and Wrens, especially in the winter when there may be a decrease in cover. Be sure to check with your neighborhood or home regulations (if this applies to you). It is a violation in some places to have a brush pile in your backyard
Provide Nest Boxes
Nest boxes are also beneficial to species such as Western Bluebirds and Violet-green and Tree Swallows. Learn more about protecting swallows and bluebirds from house sparrows here. Space your nest boxes about 200 feet apart and be sure they have the appropriate drainage and ventilation. Nest boxes should be cleaned each year after use.
I hope that these tips will get you started with constructing the perfect bird-friendly garden and will increase the number of beautiful birds and other wildlife in your backyard. Follow these and I guarantee that your backyard birds will thank you and stay around for a long time!
This 4-page handout created by Benton SWCD summarizes the kinds of Food, Cover, Water, and Nesting Sites to provide for birds.
This double-sided handout includes a garden design by Signe Danler and a list of native plants that support birds.
A great one-page summary of the important concepts to remember when creating bird-friendly landscapes.
About the Author
Lauren D. Pharr is a current Graduate Research Assistant at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina. Lauren is also an Ornithologist and Science Communicator, having written and contributed to pieces for The Cincinnati Zoo, WIRED Magazine, and Discover Magazine. To learn more about Lauren and follow her research, visit her Instagram, Twitter, and website: www.lpharr.com