Bird watching is one of the most peaceful enjoyable hobbies you could ever take up. Actually, it’s more than just a hobby, it’s a way of life. Birdwatching can enrich your life in so many wonderful ways – you’ll wonder how you ever lived without these little guys as prominent fixtures in your life.
You can turn your backyard, or front yard as far as that goes (Or, if you’re like us, front AND back yards!) into a beautiful bird watching and bird feeding haven.
Below are ideas to lure birds to your yard – and ways to make them so deliriously happy that they’ll keep coming back.
Create bird feeding stations in your yard. We have four feeding stations, and I have my eye on perfect spots for numbers five and six! We, generally, have specific species in mind for each bird feeding station, providing each one’s favorite foods and/or flowers. Each bird has a particular method of eating as well, and that has to be taken into consideration.
For example, I try to keep one feeding station primarily for finches and sparrows. These beautiful little birds prefer hanging bird feeders. Finches (including Goldfinches) prefer sunflower meats and seed, thistle, suet mixtures, finely cracked corn, and safflower seeds. Naturally, since they’re small, their preferred seeds are small. Distracting larger birds (especially ever-hungry blackbirds) is easier said than done, but I try to draw the larger birds to different feeding stations so the smaller varieties can eat in peace.
Again, easier said than done. Crackles (large blackbirds) are noisy and tend to be quite greedy at the feeder. There isn’t anything these birds won’t eat! I may be one of the only people in the world who is fond of blackbirds, but I love them dearly and find their antics to be full-out enjoyable.
I love the way they clumsily maneuver around a bird feeding station and can’t help laughing when one tries to land on the side of a feeder. It never goes as he thinks it will and I’m almost certain the sparrows enjoy a good laugh at their expense.
Our crackles are nearly as fond of water at the bird stations as they are food. We provide plenty of fresh water for our birds to drink, stand in, splash in, and cool off with. As I’m typing this, I’m watching a female cardinal splash around in a shallow glass dish of water. She drinks a little, then kicks around a little bit. I’m not sure which one of us is enjoying it more.
A male cardinal waits below, as though he’s waiting for her to get out of the shower so he can have his turn.
Another feeding station, in the backyard – beneath a very large tree, is used to court cardinals and doves. These birds are particularly fond of sunflower seeds, cracked corn, and safflower seeds – so they’re staples at the tree buffet in the backyard.
Cardinals and doves are ground feeders for the most part, which is another reason we prefer to feed them in the backyard. Our outside cats (4 of the little cuties) hang out in the front yard and on the carport. They never go into the backyard or on the patio unless I happen to be outside. Needless to say, this makes it the ideal place to set up a feeding station for the ground feeders.
Another tree is a feeding station for woodpeckers, blue jays, and squirrels. I’m not sure why anyone wants to keep squirrels away from their yard. Seriously, have you seen how cute these little buggers are?! Besides, their antics are every bit as enjoyable as any bird’s.
We have two squirrels who live among our trees. We provide them with dried ears of corn (and fresh water, of course). As long as they have their corn on the cobs, they don’t care what the birds have or don’t have. The only time they ever visit the other feeding stations is when they’ve eaten the cobs all the way down to the nub.
A hummingbird feeder hangs at the Sparrows and Finches feeding station. I’ve also placed red and orange flowers at this bird feeding station since they’re crazy in love with these colors. Orioles are also wild about the color orange. Like hummingbirds, Orioles drink nectar and sugary solutions. They also love fresh fruit such as cut oranges. (See How to Attract Hummingbirds to Your Yard)
Be warned about feeding birds fresh fruit though – fresh fruit draws flies, bees, hornets, and wasps. Be sure to dispose of fruit when the birds have had their fill.
As for peaceful, plump robins, they are always more interested in water than they are food. They’ll occasionally be found having a bite or two among the ground eaters but you’ll find them scavenging for worms more often than not. Robins, like most birds, thoroughly enjoy fresh water – even in cold weather.
Unfortunately, most people overlook the importance of providing water for birds. They’ll throw out seeds, bread crumbs, and popcorn and they’ll even invest in a bird feeder or two – but they fail to realize that birds need water to live just as the rest of us do. Besides, they enjoy a good cool dip each day!
My next investment will be a Hanging-Standing Birdbath (affiliate link).
Birds are perfectly fine with water dishes on the ground (after all, they’re accustomed to puddles), but with birds in the family and pacing around the wildlife preserve we call a yard, I feel safer if our birds bathe up off the ground.
We’ll be adding many more articles about birds, bird watching, and bird feeding to the site, so be sure to keep an eye out for them.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m headed out to get a closer look at the evening feeding. Birds generally hit the feeding station hard twice a day – early in the morning, to load up on food to give them energy for the day and late in the afternoon/evening to get their bellies full to see them through the night.
If you love songbirds, you have to see the pictures of Songbirds on National Geographic’s site. Gorgeous!