Attracting Wild Birds
To attract birds at any time of the year, there are some essentials to consider. All of these needs must be met for birds to come and stay a while:
Plants are important for food and shelter. Plants that provide nectar, fruits, berries or nuts attract many kinds of birds. Crabapples are a favorite of many types of birds. Beautyberry are a winter treat for several Georgia native birds. Hawthorne, privet, dogwood, hollies and viburnum are a few of the many plants that provide birds food from autumn into winter.
Feeding our Feathered Friends
- Suet attracts birds that cling to vertical surfaces: nuthatches, titmice, chickadees and woodpeckers.
- Thistle seed is a favorite of finches. Use a tube feeder with small holes to dispense the seed.
- The Family Tree Premium Bird Feed attracts over 30 species.
- Coles* Blue Ribbon, Special Blend, Hot Meats and Blazing Hot are also favorites.
Inexpensive bird food mixes often contain wheat, millet and hemp seed. These are not bird favorites and the birds will simply pick through what they don’t want while looking for the food they desire. The Family Tree Premium Bird Feed and Coles* Bird Feed don’t have worthless additives.
One easy way to know that you have bird food that only contains things that birds like is to make it yourself. There are an abundance of easy recipes for homemade suet, one of which is given below.
2 c shelled, unsalted peanuts
1/2 c raisins
3-4 T cornmeal
Put the peanuts in a food processor and pulse until they turn into peanut butter. Add the raisins and pulse again until there are no large chunks. Add the cornmeal and pulse to combine. Press the mixture into a mold to let harden and then hang it outside for your feathered friends to enjoy.
Squirrels can be fun to watch in your yard as long as they stay out of the bird feeders. Consider providing nuts and corn in an area away from your feeders. Other solutions include Droll Yankee feeders. There are four squirrel proof feeders that can be very enjoyable to watch as they fling the more daring squirrels off!
Another advantage to birds in your yard is that they keep insects at bay. Many birds feed on grub and ground insects. To keep moths and ants out of your birdseed, store it in a metal container. A medium-sized galvanized trash can with a tight lid can holds a large amount of seed and works great.
Cover, Nesting and Shelter
Birds and small wildlife need protection from the elements and predators. Tall grasses like miscanthus and pennisetum as well as hollies, Burning Bush and Indian Hawthorne provide ample hiding places. Birds will choose mature trees for nesting and may not visit your yard if there are none. If your trees are not yet large enough to support a bird family, add a bird house on a pole or tree to attract sparrows, bluebirds and house wrens. Many bird houses are beautiful enough to enhance the beauty of your garden and yard as well as functional for the birds.
For winter shelter, Wax myrtle, large hollies, Cryptomeria, Arborvitae and Leyland Cypress are good choices. They also make good sites for summer nests.
Birds will flock to your yard if there is an ample water source such as a bird bath or small pond. Locate your water source in an area where it can easily be seen from the house or patio. It can be very entertaining to watch as the birds drop by for a drink and dip in the pool. To keep the water ice-free during the winter add a water wiggler or de-icer.
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