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Backyard Birds

If you’ve ever set out birdseed and then sat back to watch birds flock to the feeder, only to be disappointed when none showed, take heart, attracting birds to your yard usually takes more than simply putting out seed in a feeder.  Birds hang out in areas that fulfill their basic needs: food, shelter, and water.  Try the following tips to make feathered creatures your friends.

1)  Know their favorite foods. 

Goldfinches love thistle seed.  Purple martins love insects.  Blue jays will eat anything.  And almost all birds love sunflower seeds.  If you want a particular kind of bird to come to your feeder, read up on what they like best, and then provide it.

2)  Provide water. 

Birds love water, both to bathe in and to drink.   A classic birdbath fills the bill perfectly.  However, splashing water, as in a small fountain or water garden, attracts even more.  A birdbath with a heater installed during the winter keeps birds coming back year-round.

3)  Be consistent.

Once you start feeding birds, keep food supplies steady.  Some birds will come to rely on your supply and will suffer if you stop providing it.  Or, they will stop coming.  For best results, set up most feeders in the fall, when overwintering birds will begin seeking out food sources.

4)  Provide shelter.

Birdhouses are nice additions to the yard and will attract a family of birds.  But to attract larger numbers of birds, plant trees and large, bushy shrubs.  Especially good are trees and shrubs with small fruits, such as mulberries, which birds love to eat.

Mother Nature is smarter than any gardener.  Plant lots of perennials, shrubs, trees, groundcovers, and edible plants, and you’ll create a complex ecosystem right in your yard.  The plants will attract insects, which will feed the birds, which will control the insects, which will protect the plants, which will also provide food for the birds.

By Sherri Sanders
County Extension Agent - Agriculture
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Sherri Sanders
County Extension Agent - Agriculture
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
411 No Spruce Searcy AR 72143
(501) 268-5394


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