When they aren’t picking away at my vegetables, I love having wild birds in my backyard. They’re very colorful, fun to watch, and they make beautiful music. You can attract more wild birds to your home with feeders and birdhouses. If you enjoy having cardinals, bluebirds, hummingbirds, or woodpeckers around, follow these steps to create a wild bird heaven.
What Wild Birds Love
- Free Food (I mean who doesn’t…)
- Certain Plants and Shrubs
- Fresh Water (moving water is best)
- Living Space – Bird Houses
Different Birds, Different Food
To get a wide variety of birds in your yard, you will need to have a different feed to accommodate. The following link is a chart that shows what seeds are best to attract certain birds BirdChart.
Below are a few of the most popular bird food that you can buy at Rural King:
Attracts: Chickadees, House Finches, Titmice, Jays, Cardinals, Sparrows, and more!
Birds can’t ignore a feeder full of sunflower seeds. Black oil sunflower seeds are the most common, but you can also find sunflower hearts, which is the same thing without the outer shell. Some birds will eat the hearts but the shells give them a hard time.
This birdseed is very thin, small and is great for winter feeding. You will need a special feeder like this Perky Pet Finch Bird Feeder because the seed is so tiny. The holes on this feeder are small enough to keep this tiny seed in while being large enough for finches to fit their thin beaks through.
Attracts: Cardinals, Nuthatches, Jays, Woodpeckers, House Finches, and more!
If you are having troubles with squirrels eating your birdseed, a switch to Safflower seed may be in order. Birds love it, squirrels HATE it so you won’t have to worry about keeping those pesky climbers out of your feeders.
Attracts: Hummingbirds, Chickadees, Orioles, Warblers, Woodpeckers, and more.
You might not have realized but Hummingbirds aren’t the only ones that appreciate nectar. This sugar water mixture is great for attracting some birds and a variety of other wildlife as well. You can either purchase some Hummingbird Nectar or make your own with the recipe below:
- Combine a 1:4 ratio of plain white table sugar to water. NOTE: if your water has heavy chemicals or metals in it, try using purified or bottled water.
- Slowly heat the solution for 1-2 minutes on the stove
- Allow the solution to cool before filling the feeder.
Attracts: Doves, Sparrows, Juncos, Quail, Buntings, Wild Turkeys
Millet commonly comes in birdseed mixes, but it can be purchased separately. These seeds are great for hoppers and tube feeders. Sprinkling them on the ground works well too.
Attracts: Chickadees, Creepers, Juncos, Grosbeaks, Jays, Nuthatches, Cardinals, Titmice, Woodpeckers, and more!
If you’re going to feed your wild birds peanuts, make sure the nuts are specifically made for birds. Some peanuts you buy from the grocery store will be bad for birds. It’s safest to just buy a bag from a feed store so you know you’re not harming the bird population.
You can purchase peanuts shelled or non-shelled. For a larger variety of birds, I would suggest non-shelled. Some birds love the nut inside but can’t break open the shell on their own.
Different Feed, Different Feeders
Once you have the seed you want, you’ll need a proper feeder. Below are a few of the most common you can choose from. A variety of feeders will bring a wider range of birds.
Probably the most popular type of feeder. Tube feeders should keep your seed fairly clean and dry. I would suggest a metal tube feeder. They will last longer than the plastic versions. However, I’ve seen plenty of plastic feeders stand the test of time.
Nyjer Feeders: These are very similar to tube feeders but are designed to hold tiny seeds like Nyjer.
Try this 2 in 1 Tube Feeder. It switches between small and large seed size so you can switch it up anytime you want!
These are platform feeders that are open and inviting to the widest variety of birds. They’ll even sometimes attract other woodland creatures like squirrels and deer.
If the table doesn’t have a roof or covering, you’ll want to clean it frequently. Droppings, snow, and water can ruin the seed and cause bacteria to group on your feeder, making birds very sick.
Suet cakes and balls are very popular for many species of wild bird. Special baskets and feeders are made of metal or mesh to hold in the cake or ball, and the birds will flock to it and much until it’s gone.
You can find a ton of different seed cake/ball mixes HERE.
Specially made to fill up with nectar. They usually have tiny spouts that look like flowers that birds and sip the nectar out of. Make sure you keep them clean. Wash them out after each filling.
Hummingbirds are known to fight over the feeder if you have a lot around. If you see any tussling going on, add another nectar feeder a few feet away.
With any feeder, you want to make sure you don’t place it too close to a window or glass door. Birds could run into it, causing injury.
Trees and Shrubs that Attract Wild Birds
If you have a feeder and seed but still aren’t attracting many wild birds, you may need to add some shrubbery to your yard. Birds need a bit of shelter and love plants with berries and other foods.
- American Holly
- Red Cedar
- Sour Gum
- Black Cherry
- Dogwood Shrubs
- Purple Coneflowers
- Black-Eyed Susans
Moving Water – Birdbaths
Having a birdbath or a place where the birds can drink and wash is essential for a bird paradise. Just make sure the birdbath stays clean. Dump the water out and add fresh water once a day if the birdbath doesn’t have a covering.
Not only will fresh water attract birds to your garden, but moving water will be even more enticing.
If you live in a cold climate, be sure the water isn’t frozen. During the winter, I dump out the birdbath right just before sunset and fill it up with warm water after my morning coffee. Warm water doesn’t freeze as fast (obviously), so my birds have fresh water even longer.
Try this K&H Super Ice Eliminator to make sure your bird bath water never freezes!
Birdhouses and Shelters
Wild birds will stick around a lot longer if they have a home to stay in near their food. Many people build their own birdhouses or use recycled material to make them.
The Balance has a list of several Free Birdhouse Plans. Follow the link if you’re a do-it-yourselfer.
Or, try on of these 8 DIY Upcycled Bird Houses.
If you aren’t savvy with a hammer and nails or don’t have a lot of time, you might want to buy a birdhouse. Like seed and feeders, having a variety of birdhouses will attract a larger variety of birds.
Below are 5 things you should consider when choosing a birdhouse:
- Heating and Cooling
- Proper Drainage – Make sure there are small drainage holes in the bottom in case water gets inside. This will protect against mold growing in the house.
- Safety – perch-free and reinforced entrances protect birds from predators. Some birdhouses use metal to reinforce the opening and others simply extend the opening so predators can’t reach inside.
- Mounting – Make sure you have a space in mind for your bird feeder. If you need to nail it to a tree or something, you’ll need to make sure you have space and tools to do so.
Winter Bird Feeding
Don’t forget your feathered friends whenever it gets cold out. When winter rolls around, food is tough for birds to find. Make sure to keep your feeders clean and full.
Also, they will need fresh water. A heated birdbath is best if you can manage. However, you can simply dump the birdbath at night and fill it with warm water in the morning, like I mentioned earlier.
Is Your Backyard a Bird Paradise?
I’ve only recently got into bird feeding and caring for the wild birds in my yard. If you think your backyard is heaven for birds in your area, share some pictures with me.
Also, what feed and feeders you use; seedless mix, peanuts, Nyjer? I’m interested to hear what you all have tried and if you were successful. Let me know in the comment section below.
Interested in more information, tips, and tricks for your garden? Check out our Lawn and Garden Category.