August 9, 2021

Attract Birds to Your Yard: Food, Water, Shelter and More

Katie and Gene Hamilton

Bring Binocular News

Invite birds to your yard with features they like: food, water, shelter and nesting spots

Building developers attract new home buyers by pointing out the features of the house, the neighborhood and the surrounding areas.  That same approach works for enticing birds to your yard. Invite birds to your yard with amenities they like: food, water, shelter and a safe nesting spot to call their own. You won’t attract all the birds but you can appeal to many of them by adding features they want – like a bird feeder and a birdbath – to your backyard and home. 

Bird food, water and a safe nesting spot brings birds to your property.
Even birds enjoy a place to call their own.

Birdbaths, bird feeders, shelter and a nesting site are bird-friendly

Add an attractive water feature like a bird bath to your landscape.

A hot trend in housing is an outdoor kitchen added to a deck or patio. You can follow that lead and create a bird-friendly space whether you have a small apartment balcony or a large property.  The trick is to attract all types of birds using what we know entices them to visit. That includes a variety of native plants, food sources and feeding stations.  Landscape with plants and fruits with colors and scents chickadees and finches are drawn to. Try ivy and other climbing plants, fruit bearing trees and shrubbery with berries and other natural habitat. Insects are attracted to aromatic plants; and birds are attracted to insects so consider that when you’re selecting landscaping materials. Hanging different types of bird feeders placed throughout the yard are attractive and invite a wide species of birds including orioles and songbirds.

A birdbath is a nice enticement to attract birds and an attractive element for your landscape.  Set within a garden of aromatic flowers or as a focal point that stands alone, a birdbath welcomes birds to bathe or drink. You’ll find different styles like a traditional pedestal supporting a bowl, or an on-the-ground birdbath. Hanging style birdbaths and those that are mounted on a deck railing offer a good choice for smaller spaces. A bath with a fountain moves the water which attracts birds.

TIP: Check a birdbath every few days to make sure it is clean and the water is fresh.

Of course, a fresh supply of water and food is always essential to attract a variety of birds and you’ll get good advice about bird feeders and the bird seed to put in them at a local bird supply retailer who knows what birds inhabit your area and what they like to eat.  A good choice is a mix of seed that’s dehulled to decrease the mess, black oil sunflower seed and suet, are a good source of protein for birds. Hummingbirds thrive on a hummingbird feeder filled with nectar which is a sugary water.

Birds like a place to call their own because they’re territorial and want to provide for their offspring. Consider adding a nest box or bird house to bring new birds to your property.

Luring birds to a balcony

On a balcony you can draw birds by adding colorful potted or hanging plants, but don’t be impatient. Use a bracket designed for railings to mount a feeder on the railing. Your balcony welcome mat may take a few weeks to lure your flying friends. Don’t forget a water feature – a bowl, a small fountain or waterfall –  that you change regularly is always necessary to attract small birds and so is a bird feeder with a variety of food.   

We keep binoculars near the door to our patio so we can take a quick peek at visiting birds.  We often hear them before we see them because they so cleverly blend into the bushes surrounding the patio. If we spot them with our eyes we quickly pick up the binocs, turn the focus wheel and adjust the lens until there’s a clear sharp view of the bird.  Whether it’s hummingbirds, songbirds or whatever species you like, birding is a wonderful pastime; and when you can do it from the comforts of your home it makes being a birder special. 

TIP: Keep Birds Safe. If your outdoor living space has a large glass patio door it’s a good idea to apply anti-collision stickers to the glass that reflects the area around it. Too often birds fly into the glass thinking it’s a tree or shrubbery. The decals of different shaped leaves are inexpensive and easy to apply and help prevent birds getting injured.

Are you a Bird Lover? If you are looking for remarkable limited edition prints, original artwork and books about birds, take a look at the work of Julie Zickefoose at her website We recently had the good fortune to meet Julie and share our enthusiasm for her expertise and artwork. If you read BWD magazine, the new Bird Watcher’s Digest, you’ll see the lovely cover art on the July/August 2022 edition is by Julie.


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Gene and Katie Hamilton are bird watchers who attend birding festivals and events and write about the wonders of the birding world. They are members of the Outdoor Writers Association of America.
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