How to Attract Birds to Your Backyard
The Audubon Society is alive and well in the Pacific Northwest. After all we do have a lot of birds to see and enjoy throughout the region. So how do you attract those birds to your own back yard? We had the chance to meet with Dick Lamster, Past President of the Lane County Audubon Society, for some insightful advice.
Birds Follow the Food
One of the easiest ways to get birds to your home is to add native, food producing plants to your back yard. Add trees, bushes, and flowers that bear nuts, seeds, and fruit. Beyond native plants, you’ll also want to add a handful of bird feeders.
“There are two basic types of seed feeders,” Dick explained. “Hanging cylindrical feeders, and platform feeders.”
Be sure you have more than one feeder in your yard to avoid territorial disputes and defensive birds.
Experts throughout the Northwest agree that the best birdseed is black-oil sunflower. Birds of all shapes and sizes love the stuff. Fill up your feeders with black-oil sunflower and you’ll attract finches, Steller’s jays, scrub jays, nuthatches, chickadees, doves, sparrows and a lot more. Or simply buy a bag of mixed seed and see what birds come to your yard.
During the winter months, put suet out for the birds. These cakes of fat and seed help birds survive the long, cold days.
Want to attract hummingbirds? Dick suggests a hummingbird feeder and a homemade nectar. To make yours, just mix 1 part white sugar to 4 parts water (No Food coloring).
Give Birds Cover
To attract birds year round, be sure you have a good mix of deciduous and evergreen trees. When placing feeders, be sure there are “stepping stones” to give the birds cover as they make their way to the feeder. Stepping stones include trees, fences, sheds, shrubs, and other plants that birds can land on and watch for predators.
If there are cats that visit your back yard, try to plant shrubs with higher vegetation so that there are not as many places for felines to hide.
Birds Need Water too
Put a shallow birdbath or bubbler in your back yard and you’ll attract plenty of birds. “Just be sure the water isn’t more than one to two inches deep,” Dick said about proper baths. “Bird legs aren’t that long.”
Home is Where the Nest is
Backyard bird enthusiasts often care for dozens of birdhouses. Whatever your preference, just be sure you buy ones that birds will actually use. First, look for homes with holes no more than 1.5” in diameter. Anything bigger than that and you’ll only attract starlings. Additionally, take careful note of the placement of the hole and the bottom of the house. There should be at least 5” between the two so that the birds have enough room to build their nest and protect their eggs from predators. A good birdhouse will include ventilation holes for hot summer days and an easy-to-open panel for cleaning.
Keep Things Clean
A songbird can live for up to seven years. But that can be cut short with viruses and bacteria passed from bird to bird. It’s like humans using a drinking fountain or double dipping in the ranch sauce. You can help keep birds healthy by cleaning your feeders, water features, and birdhouses regularly. Be sure to clean feeders once or twice a week, water features every couple of days, and birdhouses twice a year (in the fall and early spring).
Binoculars and Books
If you really enjoy watching your new, feathered friends, Dick recommends a good pair of binoculars and The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America by David Sibley.
Migrate to Coastal Today
You’ll find everything you need to bring birds to your backyard at Coastal Farm & Ranch. That includes suet and suet feeders, mealworm cakes, 40 lb. bags of Black-Oil Sunflower Seeds, seed bells, as well as feeders like the Pennington Cedar Finch Bird Feeder, and the Heath Observatory Dome Platform Bird Feeder.