Back Yard Birds
Gives an idea of what needs to be included or excluded in your back yard to attract birds, including their need for shelter water food and housing.
Birds are beautiful calming creatures, their songs are pleasant to hear, and many of their colors are magnificent to behold. There is something about communing with nature that gives one a sense of completeness. I have a mockingbird that sings in the evening and early morning in a tree just outside my house. I find myself listening carefully to its different songs; the changing pitch and tones create a crescendo of beauty.
One especially popular bird that many people want to attract is the purple martin. They are interesting to watch as they frolic in the air. They love to eat mosquitoes and it has been said they will eat more than a thousand each day. Martins need an area of at least 40 to 60 feet that is un-obstructed. Electrid lines nearby will give them a place to land. They like to nest near streams or ponds. Martins do not nest alone they nest in-groups and need a house that will accommodate more than one. Their homes must be 10 to 20 feet off the ground.
There are a few things you will need in your yard to make our little feathered friends happy:
1. A nesting sight. They will need a place to lay their eggs and snuggle in, to produce more chattering and singing friends.
2. They will need a place of shelter from predators.
3. Available food.
4. And of course water, to drink and bathe.
The best ousing is a birdhouse. Some birds who especially appreciate a good “bird house” are:
Purple martins, wrens, chickadee and bluebirds. Most prefer a closed box or cavity, a box with an entrance to approximate the size of their body. Some of the birds that favor an enclosed box are:
Size of opening (inches)
Barn owl 3
Wren 1 1/8 to 1 1/4
Chickadee 1 1/8 to 1 1/4
Woodpecker 2 to 2/1/2
Purple martin 2/1/2
Swallow 1 1/2
Titmouse 1 1/8 to 1 1/4
The Thrasher and Robin use Shelf or open-sided boxs.
Shelter can be a hedge shrub or trees some birds prefer to build their nest in “natures shelter.” Cats have quite a bit of success catching birds when they are nesting. If the birdhouse is attached to a metal pole it is much more difficult for predators to succeed in their endeavor of a "tasty morsel." Bells on the collar of cats may tell you where your pet is, however it protects the birds very little.
Squirrels red and gray are a threat to birds. If you find that your hole has been enlarged by "nawing" it is most likely a squirrel. After they have entered they eat the young birds and eggs. A predator guard is usually successful in keeping them at bay.
Nature offers natural food, for our bird friends and hopefully your yard is blessed with bushes and trees. You may plant honeysuckle, dogwood, or mulberry trees too attract birds. Planting sunflowers entice cardinals Goldfinches, and……….. Sparrows. Annual and perennial flowers marigolds, zinnias, daisy, and poppy are some of the flowers that provide summer and fall feedings.
Water should be somewhat protected, by shrubbery bushes and trees. Birds will be hesitant to land where there is no quick hideaway from predators. You may be one of the lucky ones to have a natural stream or pond near your yard. I am sure you have noticed how they love these bodies of water where they drink and bathe. If you are not so fortunate, as most of us are not, then you may purchase a small bird bath, or a small man made ground level pool is pretty to look at as well as functional for our bird visitors.