Gardening For The Birds

By Amanda Shepard

Birds are some of the most fascinating creatures to watch in the garden. Their chirps are often the first sign that spring has arrived, and nothing is better than sitting back and enjoying the sounds of nature in your yard. There are several ways to create an environment that will attract and help our winged friends! Plant a garden that provides food and shelter for birds to create a beneficial, lively habitat in your own outdoor space.

6 Tips For A Bird-Friendly Garden

  1. Clean WaterProvide a clean source of water for birds. The sight and sounds of moving water in bird baths or water features will attract birds much more effectively than standing water, and helps keep the water clean. Water only needs to be a couple of inches deep for drinking and preening.
  2. Organic PracticesWhen creating your bird habitat, only use organic fertilizers and skip herbicides and pesticides. This is essential for providing safe foods for birds. Instead of trying to prevent bugs in your garden, welcome them as delicious food for your winged friends.
  3. Habitat & ShelterPlant ornamental grasses, shrubs, and small trees to provide shelter for birds. These perennials also provide habitat for insects, which offer another food source for birds -- especially when raising their young. Providing hiding and nesting places for birds protects them, and makes your garden very attractive to visiting wildlife.
  4. Bird Houses & Bird FeedersBird houses are a wonderful way of attracting a nesting pair of birds. Make sure to match the house style and entry hole to the type of bird you wish to attract. Be sure to prevent predators and pests from taking over, for example, by including a baffle on the pole to keep critters out of your birdhouse.
  5. Nesting MaterialLeave plant standing through the fall and winter, or if you cut them down, leave the plant material in place. Seeds provide a food source for birds, and stems provide nesting materials. Plant material also makes good insect habitat, another important food source for birds.
  6. BinocularsSome of the best bird-watching can happen right from the comfort of your window. Enjoy watching and listening to your garden visitors!

Planting Wildflowers For Birds

Wildflowers will provide both nourishment and shelter for birds, as well as provide a gorgeous show for you, both with their beautiful blooms and having the delight of watching the birds outside your window.

  • When planting wildflowers that will attract and feed birds, look for flowers that form large seedheads, such as Sunflowers, Echinacea, and Black Eyed Susan. This enables birds to easily snack on seeds when they ripen without struggling to break seed pods open.
  • Once flowers have finished blooming for the season, you can leave plants standing, or cut everything down and leave the debris on the ground. Leaving plant material over the winter will offer pollinator habitat, and provide material for birds to use in building shelter and nests.
Goldfinch and ZinniaGoldfinch and Zinnia
Zinnias attract birds and a wide range of pollinators to the garden.

Planting Perennials For Birds

You can indulge in a beautiful garden filled with bird-friendly plants! Hardy perennials, including ornamental grasses, shrubs, and flowering plants, all play important roles in creating a bird friendly garden. 

We recommend native plants to provide nectar, nourishing seeds, and delectable fruits for feathered friends. Native plants have evolved in partnership with the wildlife around them over centuries, building relationships that sustain each other in a resilient ecosystem. Native plants will help attract beneficial insects and pollinators, which keep your garden healthy while providing essential protein-rich food sources for birds!

  • A good strategy for planting bird habitat is to create a layered garden.
  • Mix larger, denser plants and trees with smaller varieties to provide birds with shelter and safety. Planting perennials with different heights, densities, and foliage will help to not only provide birds with shelter and nourishment, but will attract a wider range of bird types.
  • Try planting shrubs such as Butterfly Bushes, Hydrangea, and Hibiscus with ornamental grasses such as Fountain Grass, Maiden Grass, or Pampas Grass.
  • Layer in flowers such as Aster, Bee Balm, Gaillardia, Sedum, and Yarrow. 
Coreopsis Seedheads with BirdCoreopsis Seedheads with Bird
Perennials, such as Coreopisis, provide shelter for birds during the cold season. Can you spot the goldfinch?

Bring Birds To Your Garden With Perennial Plants

Birds source food from plants that produce vegetation, fruit, and nectar, and from flower heads that go to seed. Birds are also attracted to plants that provide shelter for bugs - another favorite food!

Wildflowers For Supporting Pollinators

If you'd like your garden to buzz and hum with birds and pollinators, grow the plants that they're naturally drawn to. Birds eat fruit, nectar, seeds, and insects such as moths and caterpillars. Our Regional Pollinator Wildflower Mixes feature flowers that are known to attract birds and beneficial insects in your area.

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