Many of you already use bird feeders, and that is wonderful! The seed, nectar and other products you provide at your feeders are valuable supplements to your birds' diets, so you should keep your feeders clean and filled with high quality food. However, the food in those feeders is rarely a complete, balanced diet. Birds will need to seek other sources of vitamins, minerals, protein and other elements to stay healthy. So why not save them the trouble? Provide those natural foods in your yard!
In addition to providing a balanced diet of fruit, seeds, nectar and insects, if you choose your plants carefully, those plants will also provide shelter, nesting materials and nesting locations for your birds. Your yard will be a one-stop-shop for birds!
When choosing plants, always use native plants, particularly those that are adapted to your soil type and level of sunlight. Native plants are the natural foods for your birds - they are what your birds have grown to love and come to expect in your area. Your local extension office is the best source for determining the right plants for your yard.
If possible, provide a mixture of heights: tall trees, short trees, shrubs and grasses. Some plant species have males and females. If you choose this type of plant, be sure to choose a female plant, or both a female and male in order to get fruit. Pay close attention to the time during which each plant will produce fruit. Try to choose plants that fruit at different times of year rather than all at the same time. Never spray or prune your plants during nesting season. In fact, try not to spray at all. If you get rid of the bugs, you'll get rid of the birds!
Make certain that the plants you choose are plants that you enjoy, too, either for their appearance or their fruit. If you like them, you’ll want to look outside more often, and if you’re looking outside, you might be amazed to discover which feathered newcomers have decided to make your yard their home!