Updated: Sep 1, 2021
What is a 'bird garden' and why do you want one? Bird gardens are created to attract and sustain a greater diversity of birds to your landscape. Birds are good for your garden and they are good for your soul! If your garden has a great diversity of birds you know that the habitat you share with them is healthy! Studies also show that bird song reduces stress!
When creating a garden for birds think about:
Water: Provide water for birds by installing a fountain, pond, or stream on your property. The key is for the water source to be shallow in places and provide clean, aerated, and gently moving water. You'll want access to be easy and gradual and for there to be shelter and plants nearby to provide protection from predators. Water is a wonderful way to attract a great variety of birds!
Food: Not all birds eat the same food and not all require the same food throughout the year and nesting cycle! Some eat insects, others need nectar, some focus on fruits and berries, some enjoy nuts, while others mostly eat seeds. Providing a great diversity of plants (especially native plants) that fruit and flower throughout the year can really help birds!
Shelter: Birds need shelter from predators and weather. Without it, birds won't feel at ease in your garden. Think of shelter at all levels - close to the ground all the way up to the tops of trees. Vines, bushes, trees, grasses, and other plants of all heights and sizes near water and food sources are important. Dead trees, nesting structures, bird houses, and ground cover can provide shelter.
Nests: Not all birds nest in open cup nests in trees! Some nest in cavities, others build
their nests on the ground; some in thick shrubbery, while others build their nests on man-made structures.
Different species of birds build their nests using different materials: mud, moss, grasses, leaves, and feathers among others. And different species of birds build their nests at different heights and at different times of the year so that their young hatch when the food they need is available (when particular insects hatch, berries or fruit ripen, or seeds or other foods are ready). Birds have it all figured out perfectly!
We can help them succeed by providing a great diversity of nesting material and locations, and food sources! You can also help by providing nest boxes and nesting platforms. Just make sure that they are built correctly, with ventilation, drainage, rough and untreated wood, and a proper size and hole diameter to attract the species of birds you want and keep out invasive birds and predators. Also, pay careful attention of where and at what height you locate your nest boxes or platforms.
Protection from Danger:
Windows: Are your windows killing birds? Make sure that the reflection of your windows
is not confusing birds! Break up the reflection by adding screening, decals, soap, netting, or strips of tape.
Cats: Are your cats (or the neighbor's cats) killing birds? Keep cats indoors or put a bell on them. And if you have feeders, make sure that cats can't hide under them!
Pesticides and herbicides: Think about the chemicals you are using in your garden. These will impact birds. They can kill birds directly, or indirectly by eating prey or food that has been contaminated by the chemicals. Chemicals also will eliminate the biodiversity in your soils and plants - eliminating insects, worms, and other food sources. When birds are feeding their young they are especially vulnerable!