In addition to attracting a variety of birds, a bird garden is a wonderful way to enhance your landscape. Use plants with year-round interest to provide food and shelter for the birds. If you live in an area with cold winters, shrubs with berries will supplement the food you provide with your bird feeders. Leave flower seed heads, such as those on coneflowers or sunflowers, for the birds to eat through fall and winter.
Water Sources and Feeders
Provide fresh water year-round by installing a birdbath. To keep the water from freezing, use either a birdbath heater, or keep the water flowing. Consider a water feature, such as a running waterfall with a small pond; include a shallow wading area for birds to use for drinking and splashing. Load bird feeders with seeds to attract your local birds. Place bird feeders far enough away from tree branches to keep squirrels from raiding the seed. Use a baffle (a cone-shaped object) on a bird feeder pole to deter squirrels. Woodpeckers feed from a regular cylinder feeder, but a suet cage is preferred. Some birds, such as mourning doves and juncos, are ground feeders. Provide a flat platform feeder for those birds. Hang feeders for hummingbirds. Mix 1 cup of pure white, granulated sugar with 4 cups of boiling water to make your own hummingbird food. Let the mixture cool, and pour it into your feeders.
Nesting Boxes or Birdhouses
Mount birdhouses on posts, or hang them from house eaves. Select a birdhouse that is suitable for the birds that live in your area. For example, a bluebird house is mounted 4 feet above the ground, preferably facing an open lawn or meadow. Add a new birdhouse in February before the nesting season begins in spring. Birds will stop by to check out the new residence in advance of building a nest.
Bird Garden Flowers, Shrubs and Trees
Grow plants that provide nuts, fruits and nectar for birds. Choose native plants that grow as wildflowers in your area. Don't dig up wildflowers. Visit a local nursery that sells native plants. Good seed food choices for birds include coneflowers, sunflowers and Brazilian verbena. Shrubs with berries, such as hollies, are good choices. Southern zones can grow magnolias and dogwoods for seeds, perches and shelter. Wild trees, such as tulip poplars and sweet gum, provide food sources for birds. Hickory, oak and walnut trees are good sources of nuts. Trees also provide shelter and perching spots for birds. A willow tree, available in many sizes, is an ideal tree for a bird garden. Birds will gather on the branches to wait for a turn at a bird feeder. Evergreen trees, such as cedars and pines, provide shelter with thick branches to block winter winds.