You’ve hung the bird feeder and filled it, only to have it ransacked by squirrels. You’ve tromped through the snow to fill feeders that you can’t even see. You have wondered about the lack of birds in your yard – missing their colorful spring plumage. If you’ve hung a wreath or other decoration on your door, you’ve probably, at one time or another, been dismayed and delighted to open the door and see a mama bird fly away quickly – her carefully built nest left in the protective cradle of the door.
There are ways to avoid bird nests on your doors, and to actually enjoy feeding the birds. In fact, you can manage your garden in a certain way to encourage wildlife and lessen your own work. Here’s how:
Benefits of Feeding Birds
Encroaching commercial and residential development has drastically depleted habitat for birds across North America. They now have a more difficult time finding reliably available food sources, areas for shelter, and water. In the winter, finding water is even more difficult—especially in northern areas where natural water sources freeze.
So, if you’ve heard that feeding birds, or providing them with water or shelter isn’t helpful, think again. Birds with access to food:
- Nest earlier
- Lay more eggs
- Fledge more chicks (raise them to the point of adulthood).
According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, feeding birds during their fall migration can provide them with that extra boost of energy they need to make to their winter vacation destination. Make sure that you hang your feeder where you can see it from a kitchen window, or a window you look out of frequently. That way you’ll get the most enjoyment out of your feeder. Bird feeders are one way to provide food. There’s another way: planting native plants in your garden.
Gardening for Wildlife
Start by planting a variety of trees, shrubs, flowers and fruits that birds like to eat. In addition to providing food, these plants will also provide shelter for birds. Remember that planting things at different heights in the garden provides food and shelter for ground-nesting birds, as well as tree-nesting birds.
Once your plants are established, when the end of the season nears, stop deadheading perennials and annuals, and let fruit lay where it falls. The seed heads from flowers and trees will give birds and other wildlife tasty snacks.
To encourage birds and butterflies, plant things that are native to your area—that the native birds will gravitate to first.
Keep Birds Away from the Front Door
Give them bird houses! If a bird nests in your front door, it is probably because that’s the best, most sheltered spot it could find. Help the birds feel comfy without inconveniencing you or the new babies, when they hatch. Hang a bird house. Make sure to hang the bird house in a sheltered area, near a food source and fresh water source. You and your birds will be happier.
Roll out the welcome mat for wildlife—a little preparation goes a long way. Click to visit our modern bird collection.