The Rockdale Gardener

Gardening Posts From Rockdale Cooperative Extension

Attracting Birds to Your Landscape

The brightly colored feathers of Goldfinches on my bird feeder thrills my family as we watch them out of our dining room window at each meal. Hummingbirds visiting the cleome and cosmos flowers fly up to the window to see what we are up to.

Birds are like flying flowers.

Pine Warblers are neat little birds with a melodic song that visit birdfeeders regularly. Photo by Pat and Teresa Mawhinney

Pine Warblers are neat little birds with a melodic song that visit birdfeeders regularly. Photo by Pat and Teresa Mawhinney

Turning one’s yard into a suitable habitat for birds is not difficult. Designing landscapes that provide birds with their five essential needs: food, shelter, water, cover, and nesting sites is what keeps birds in your yard long term. Some have called landscaping to create bird habitat Birdscaping.

Planning a landscape that is suitable for birds is easy. Start by sketching the existing landscape. Make note of all structures, plantings, and topographical features. Make notes on your drawing of the plants to leave, to remove, or add keeping in mind that birds like edges such as forest and planting borders.

Choose areas to plant trees and shrubs that birds can utilize. Mix in plantings of annuals and perennials that flower throughout the season. These plants will attract insects that birds may feed on. Try to leave standing dead trees, if possible, to provide habitat for birds such as woodpeckers.

After choosing plants that provide food, shelter, and cover for birds, artificial features should be considered. Water sources such as birdbaths, fountains, and ponds may be added to landscapes to attract birds. The features should be in the open away from any place cats and other predators can hide. Rocks and water plants add a to a water feature’s attractiveness to birds as well as keeping the water fresh.

Common Yellowthroat. Photo by Teresa and Pat Mawhinney.

Common Yellowthroat. Photo by Teresa and Pat Mawhinney.

Man made birdhouses can be installed. These should be placed in sheltered spots near a shrub or tree. Finally, birdfeeders can be added. All bird feeders should be placed in the open near some sort of cover. Baffles and guards should be placed on mounting poles of both birdfeeders and houses to prevent predation.

Attracting birds to one’s yard by birdscaping can be rewarding. Birds are not only beautiful and fun to watch, but also provide control of adult insects, grubs, and caterpillars. By improving suburban and urban landscapes, people can help replace bird habitat that has been reduced or destroyed by development. To learn more about attracting birds to your landscape, contact the Rockdale Cooperative Extension office at 770-278-7373.

Plants That Make Good Bird Habitat

Plant Plant type Feature Birds attracted
Oak Tree Excellent nesting Blue jays, sparrows, acorn woodpeckers
Pine Tree Excellent nesting Robins, purple finches, mourning doves, warblers, sparrows
Holly Large shrub Shelter Towhees, thrashers, mockingbirds
Elderberry Large shrub Summer fruit Warblers, grosbeaks, goldfinches
Dogwood Small tree Nesting, late summer fruit Bell’s vireos, summer tanagers
American Beautyberry Shrub Late summer fruit Many birds
Native roses Shrub Nesting, cover Many birds
Eastern Red Cedar Tree Nesting, winter fruit Sparrows, robins, mock-ingbirds, many others
Winterberry Dec. Holly Small shrub Late winter fruit Robins, blackbirds, cedar waxwings