How to Use Plants to Attract Birds to Your Yard
Do you love the music of songbirds? Do you enjoy the sight of beautiful birds in flight? Do you look for flapping wings whenever you gaze out your kitchen window? If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, turn your yard into a haven for birds so you can enjoy visits from these beautiful creatures more often. Follow the four steps below to optimize your landscaping for birds.
1. Understand Habitat Structure
Before you make modifications to your landscaping, you need to know a little about how birds assess the ground below them to find spots to land, feed, and nest. As they fly over an area, birds compare different patches of land to each other. Birds look for an ideal habitat structure, or an area of land that contains smaller patches perfect for nesting and feeding.
In general, larger birds consider more space when searching for a suitable habitat, and smaller birds look at smaller areas. To a bigger bird like a hawk, your yard is only a small piece of its habitat structure. However, your yard can comprise a much more significant amount of a smaller bird’s habitat.
Because you likely only have control over the landscaping in your yard (and not throughout your neighborhood), the landscaping you implement will mainly affect which small-sized birds decide to visit your yard. To attract larger birds, you would have to change the landscaping in a larger area.
2. Incorporate Elements to Meet Bird Needs
Like all living creatures, birds have basic needs. Theirs include adequate resources to feed, drink, and find shelter. You should incorporate trees, plants, and other bird accommodations that provide these essentials.
Consider including the following in your yard:
A small pond or birdbath. Place it beneath a tree so birds can find shelter quickly if predators arrive, but keep it away from thinner shrubs, where predators may hide.
Flowering trees and shrubs. These plants attract birds that feed on nectar, such as hummingbirds.
Trees and shrubs that bear fruit, nuts, berries, or acorns. Many bird species feed on these sweet offerings. Vary your plants so that your yard provides food during as many seasons as possible and thus attracts birds year-round.
Dense bushes. Small birds often nest and take cover from prey in thicker bush growth. Taller trees. Older or higher trees offer safe places to nest.
You can enhance some of these features further to make them even more attractive to birds. For example, the sound of flowing water from a fountain may draw more birds to your yard. You can also minimize your use of pesticides to ensure that the birds that visit you remain healthy.
3. Prioritize Native Trees and Shrubs
The foliage you include in your yard should be native to Florida as much as possible. These plants come pre-equipped to provide the food and shelter birds in your region need. Plus, they are adapted to grow and thrive in the climate and soil conditions near your home.
Add some of the following native Florida trees to your landscaping if you want to invite more birds to your yard:
Cabbage palm, the Florida state tree which bears a fruit that attracts many birds, including the mockingbird, Florida’s state bird
Red mulberry, a medium-sized tree that can bring orioles, bluebirds, thrushes, and warblers to your yard
Any native oak variety, such as the southern live oak, since it will drop acorns for food and provide plenty of shade
Dogwood, a tree with a broad crown that provides plenty of space for perching
Sugarberry, also known as hackberry, because its dark berries ripen around September to feed birds like robins, red tanagers, and cedar waxwings
If you want to plant native shrubs to add more variety to your yard, consider the tall marlberry, the medium-sized beautyberry, or the slightly smaller firebush.
4. Care for Existing Trees
Placing new plants isn’t the only way to invite birds to your yard. You can also perform more regular maintenance on the trees and stumps your yard does have. Work with a tree care professional to complete the following steps:
Remove selected dead trees, trunks, or stumps. These remnants of once-living plants take up space in your yard where other trees could blossom, bear fruit, and provide shade. However, some birds prefer to nest in dead trees, so be selective about which dead trees you remove. A tree removal expert can help you choose.
Trim branches to encourage growth. As trees age, sometimes sections of their crowns grow in odd directions. Ask a professional tree trimmer to clip these branches periodically so the tree grows in a more controlled and majestic shape. Tell your tree trimmer to avoid clipping branches where nests exist, though.
When you ensure your trees receive this needed maintenance, you promote their health and guarantee they can provide resources for many generations of birds.