cardinal

You probably want to attract nature to your garden, which means water, food and shelter. Below are the provisions you need for attracting birds.

Bird Baths:

You don’t have to buy an actual bird bath. You can also use shallow containers like pot saucers.

You probably want to accommodate various kinds of birds, so a good rule of thumb laid out by the National Audobon Society is that a bird bath with a depth of two inches is ideal for larger birds like cardinals and grackles and blue jays.

Smaller birds will go in depths of about one inch. If you are using a container that is flat such as a pot saucer, you can add rocks for birds to perch on to mimic the natural setting of lakes and streams.

After you set out your container/containers of water, watch for a few days to see if birds are using it for bathing and preening and then make improvements based on your observations.

cardinal

Bird Feeders:

If you put more than one feeder in various places more birds will come. Some birds are comfortable with crowds but others like their privacy.

Position your feeder a few feet from a tree or bush. This gives the birds a staging area where they can wait before swooping in.

Locate your bird feeders at different levels. Sparrows, juncos and towhees usually feed on the ground. Finches and cardinals feed in shrubs. Chickadees, titmice and woodpeckers feed in trees.

Once you start feeding birds in the winter it is best to stick with it. Birds in colder areas need more calories and will come to depend on you. You can offer a variety of seeds in separate feeders.

Keep your bird seed in a cool dry place.

birdhouse

Bird Houses:

You want to have your bird houses set up before breeding season.

  • In the south, place your nest boxes by February.
  • In northern regions, place your nest boxes by mid to late March.

If possible provide a 2 inch roof overhang to prevent cats from being able to reach into the birdhouse. Drill 1/4 inch holes in the bottom for drainage.

Most birds will be happy to have their birdhouse between 6 ft to 15 ft off the ground. You want to be able to reach it by ladder for cleaning.
patio

Apartment Dwellers:

If you live in an apartment building or don’t have a yard, you can still attract birds. Window feeders can be attached to a window with suction cups.

Hanging baskets containing certain flowers will attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Hummingbirds are attracted to brightly colored flowers that are tubular and hold nectar. They also love the color red.

Plants to attract hummingbirds and butterflies: Petunias, salvias, geraniums, verbena, lantana

There are many ways to attract birds to a small space garden or apartment setting. Even a container shrub is suitable for a nest. Build it and they will come. Not right away, because they will watch cautiously for awhile. But once they feel that it’s safe, they will take advantage of your provisions for them.

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10 Comments

  1. A greatly useful post, Brenda. As well as the last few that you’ve sent.

    I have just started feeding the birds again after not doing so for a couple years. I do so enjoy watching them from the table where I eat breakfast. I am still working on finding the perfect feeder, though. I want something that has a protective roof to keep the rain and snow off the birds and the seed. I designed one–quite a simple one–but haven’t found anyone to build it for me yet. I am not a power tool-using gal!

    I am so ready for Spring to be here so I can do stuff outdoors without freezing! I want to be better prepared with my bird feeders and baths next fall than I was this year. So bring on the sunshine and warm temps–whoever’s in charge of that!

  2. That is wonderful that you can get birds to come –even to a small patio—there is nothing like birds to put a smile on your face. AND they are highly entertaining, I think. xo Diana

  3. I had to laugh at the birdbath ( not happily, though! 🙂 New neighbors have FOUR little yippy dogs… and one day when Koopa, my son’s pit bull was here….I had him and my two older dogs outside. and they let their four out.
    Those four came out barking like crazy and Koopa went nuts ! He wanted to go play! He was trying to get under my fence and almost made it and went I went after him he was running back and forth along the fence with the little dogs and BOOM! Right in to my bird bath and there it went into or so pieces

  4. I enjoyed this post so much. You, and your readers, posted such good advice. We have lots of birds come to our feeding stations, but I wish we had cardinals here. We do have lots of (bossy) blue jays though, and we even welcome squirrels and chipmunks. Not only do I enjoy watching, so does the dog!

  5. I have several bird feeders and the birds (and squirrels) are quite active at the feeders. I do need to add a bird bath and once seeing the wet cardinal in your photo, I am going to set one up this weekend. What a neat picture! The first picture is almost funny — looks like the cardinal is looking at the water, knows he needs a good bath, but is really checking it out first.

    Thank you so much for the posts this week on planning and setting up gardening space. I have enjoyed reading your suggestions and looking at the photos.

  6. this has been a wonderful series Brenda! thank you.
    actually I enjoy all your posts. well… some of the books aren’t my cuppa tea!
    but I even enjoy your reviews! and little Abi and Charlie… I could see pictures of them every single day and feel happy!

  7. To feed the hummers, mix 1/4 cup sugar in 1 cup water. Just bring it to a boil. Cool before filling the feeder. Do NOT add red food color as this harms the hummingbirds. Be sure to clean and refill your feeders a couple times per week. They will grow mold. To attract more hummingbirds, hang multiple feeders – they are territorial. Have fun observing the action.

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