Creating a Bird Garden

Choosing plants that attract birds and creating a garden design that mimics nature helps to draw birds into your yard year round without the mess and expense of bird feeders. When selecting plants for a bird garden, remember that you are creating a special habitat. It must provide for a bird’s three basic needs: food, water and shelter. Your plant choices can provide food and shelter to desired birds, though not usually at the same time. Your efforts improve the chance that native birds will utilize your yard, but you cannot attract a bird that does not naturally live in your geographic area.

A basic rule of gardening works for both plants and birds. “Right plant, right place” becomes “Right plant, right bird” in your bird garden. If you are looking to attract a specific bird species, choose plants that offer both food and shelter when you can expect the desired birds to need them. Keep in mind the size and type of landscape you have and work with it to attract those species that will utilize the space. As you design your bird garden, employ layers to provide food, shelter and nesting spaces for a variety of birds. Mimic nature’s forest design by providing ground covers, understory plants and larger trees in within the area.

Fruit eaters such as catbirds, waxwings, grosbeaks, mockingbirds, robins, and orioles enjoy any fruit you eat. Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and grapes each provide fruit at a different time. Many of these fruits also provide cover, especially those that grow as thickets or vines. Beyond these common fruits, birds will also eat the berries of dogwoods, mulberries, hawthorn, and quince. Winter fruit can be provided by winterberry, holly, ivy, chokecherry, magnolias and service berry. Many woodland groundcovers and vines such as poison ivy and Virginia creeper also provide berries eaten by birds as well as providing shelter, nesting spots and cover.

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