You know that it's spring when you awake to the beautiful sound of birds chirping in your backyard. It's fun to watch them busily flitting about, building nests, going through their mating rituals, and even chasing away other species. If you're fascinated by your seasonal neighbors, you're certainly not alone. Backyard birding (and birding in general) is one of the fastest growing hobbies in the U.S. In fact, it doesn't take much effort to make your backyard a friendlier place for your feathered friends - and beautify your home at the same time. Here are some ways to get started:
There are dozens of different types of bird feeders available, and the birds they attract depends both upon the type of bird feeder and the type of food you put in your bird feeders. For example, a tube feeder will attract songbirds like goldfinches, chickadees, woodpeckers, and nuthatches. If you add a tray to the feeder, you can also attract cardinals, jays, purple finches, and crossbills. Similarly, birds like doves, blackbirds, sparrows, and towhees will utilize a tray or platform feeder with millet, while placing corn in the feeder will attract starlings, quail, and pheasants.
Hanging suet bird feeders appeal to wrens, cardinals, and woodpeckers, among others, while peanut butter suet feeders will also draw jays, bluebirds, and thrushes. Humming bird feeders will, of course, attract those fascinating hummers.
When selecting your bird feeders, it's helpful to know the species of birds that nest in or migrate through your region. Then, choose feeders that are durable, that will adequately feed the number of backyard birds that you have, and that are easy to clean.
While bird feeders often have a utilitarian design, decorative bird houses go all out, adding beauty to your yard while being fully functional for the birds you want to attract. You can find bird houses that look like Nantucket cottages, Victorian houses, and even gingerbread cottages. Not all species of birds come home to roost in a given bird house, though, so it's important to know the housing requirements of the backyard birds you want to attract.
Bird baths can add a beauty and elegance to your yard while providing your feathered neighbors with a much-needed place to drink and bathe. Birds generally like a textured surface and a rim upon which they can perch, but beyond that, you can choose the design that works best with your landscaping. If you live in a cold climate, consider buying a heated bird bath so that your backyard guests can find respite even in the winter.
Once you get pecked - er, bitten - by the backyard birding bug, it's fun to turn your yard into a safe haven. In addition to bird feeders, decorative bird houses, and bird baths, you can incorporate landscaping elements that are bird-friendly and take other steps to ensure the health and safety of backyard birds.
Making your backyard bird-friendly is more than a feel-good exercise. Bird feeders, bird houses, and bird baths enable more hatchlings to survive, and having birds around keeps the insect population in check. Having fewer insects means that you won't need to use pesticides, which in turn helps keep the water clean and everyone - people, pets, and wildlife - healthier and happier.