Birdwatching is not always about going to faraway places and observing rare and beautiful birds, you can, in fact, start this hobby in the comfort of your own garden. Attracting specimens to your viewing area is very easy and inexpensive since birds can be found almost anywhere and they’re just waiting to be discovered.
To make things easier for you, we have compiled a list with the steps that you can take to customize your garden and transform it into a haven for birds. All that is left now is to take your new birding spotting scope and be ready to be astonished.
Feed the birds
The easiest and most effective step that you can take to lure some feathered friends into your garden is to feed them. Birds are creatures of habit, and you shouldn’t be too discouraged if your brand new feeder does not attract new visitors from the first day. Patience is key, but you can also help your chances of success by choosing the right type of bird feeder.
Feeders nowadays are built from a multitude of materials, and some come in glass, recycled plastics, traditional wood, metal, or a combination of these. We generally recommend going for options that mimic the natural colors a bird is likely to encounter in the wild.
The quality of the materials that are being used is essential, which is why we advise you not to get options built from inexpensive plastic that will fade, discolor, and crack. Some quality plastic feeders are crafted to look like wood, and they are fade resistant and ready to handle heavy use.
Speaking of that, you should bear in mind that your seeds will not attract only birds but also squirrels. If your option is made from a thin plastic or wood, these little thieves might chew right through them, destroying the feeder and robbing your birds of all their seeds.
Types of bird feeders
Bird feeders nowadays are made in a variety of models in order to provide the best feeding delivery, and choosing the right one can be as tricky as getting the right pair of birding binoculars. To ensure that you won’t get lost in this sea of options, below we will talk a bit about some of the most popular bird feeders.
The tray or platform feeders are the most straightforward options you can purchase, and they attract the widest variety of seed-eating birds, including native sparrows, pigeons, house sparrows, grosbeaks and more. The disadvantage is that tray feeders offer close to no protection against the rain, snow, and squirrels.
The hopper or the “house” feeder is built to protect the seeds against weather and bird droppings. This option will attract finches, jays, cardinals, grosbeaks, sparrows, chickadees, and titmice. The downside is that they are a real squirrel magnet.
Window feeders are small and made from plastic and can be fixed to the window glass with suction cups. They attract finches, sparrows, titmice, and chickadees. This model is great since it offers you great close-up views of birds without you having to use your favorite monocular for birdwatching.
Tube feeders are another popular option nowadays since they can keep seeds relatively clean and dry, and they feature metal feeding ports that squirrels can’t chew through. Depending on the size of the product, you may attract birds such as sparrows, chickadees, titmice, finches, and grosbeaks.
The nyjer feeders, also known as thistle feeders, are very popular with pine siskins, American goldfinches, and common redpolls. They come in two forms, a tube one with very small feeding ports and the so-called “socks”, namely a fine-mesh bag to which birds cling to extract the seeds. The downside is that the socks can get quite wet with rain.
Finally, we have the suet feeders which can be constructed of wire mesh, plastic-coated wire mesh or consist of merely a mesh bag. You can nail or tie them to a tree trunk, affixed to the side of a hopper feeder, or suspended by a branch.
The suet feeders attract a wide variety of woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches, titmice, starlings, and jays. You need to be careful with metal suet feeders since some people are afraid that the bird tongues or eyes can stick to the metal. If this has you concerned, you should be glad to learn that there are many plastic-coated suet cages.
Transform your garden into a birding paradise
To prevent squabbling and ensure that a variety of seed choices are always at the ready, you can consider purchasing two stations, and at least two differently styled feeders. Similarly, it is not all about food, since birds need water as well, even in cold weather.
Your guests will need something to drink, and we also recommend purchasing a simple bird bath so that they can have a place to bathe. If you can afford it, a pond is an even better choice that will attract a lot of other wildlife too.
Bathing is essential for birds since it keeps their feathers in top condition, not to mention that seeing them bathe is very fun and beautiful to behold. Similarly, depending on what species frequent your garden, to make your backyard an even more desirable home, you can get a cozy nest box, or make sure that they have a tree or thick shrub to build their own nest in.
The final step is to plant some bird-friendly plants that can offer some natural food. Trees or shrubs that have berries or fruits can attract waxwings and thrushes. What’s more, make sure the plants you have in the garden are insect-friendly since many birds eat insects, and they are in high demand during spring and summer when the chicks need sustenance.
You will also get to enjoy watching butterflies, bees, hoverflies and more. If you don’t have a big garden, you can grow the plants in pots. As a final note, we recommend that you avoid using pesticides and instead switch to as many natural alternatives as possible. For more information, check out our most recent article.