Bird Watching

3 proven ways to get birds to visit your garden

Spring is in the air, which means the flowers will soon be blooming and the birds are beginning their nesting season.

While the birds are fun to watch all year round, it’s in the spring and fall – during migration – that you’ll see the greatest variety. So how can you get these birds to flock near you?

Bob and Pam Gors, owners of Wild Birds Unlimited in Macomb, had some tips on how to turn your backyard into a bird sanctuary.

1. Provide free water

Birds need free water all year round – not just for drinking, but also for bathing. Their feathers actually have an insulating property that allows them to warm the air before it reaches their body, but this won’t work as well if their feathers are dirty. Since Michigan tends to dip below freezing for many months of the year, Bob recommends buying a heater for your birdbath. If you don’t have a birdbath, you can also purchase tubs with built-in heaters. It won’t make a small bird sauna, it will just activate to keep the water above freezing. This is one of the most effective ways to attract birds to visit your garden.

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2. Give them something to eat

According to Bob, birds only get about 10-20% of their food from bird feeders, but they can make a huge difference during the winter months or during a drought. Most good foods contain a mixture of sunflower seeds and peanuts, as they are a favorite of birds. At this time of year, the Gors recommend making nesting mix with extra protein and calcium that mothers need.

The tricky part can be making sure the birds actually get the food, not the other animals. The best way to do this is to change your feed. Safflower seeds are bitter and squirrels and some birds don’t like them. You can also try hot pepper food. Birds do not have taste receptors to detect heat, unlike squirrels, raccoons and other mammals. Spicy food will ensure that the birds are the only ones to enjoy it. There are also special feeders that will close if an overweight animal sits on the perch.

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Don’t underestimate the natural food that grows in your garden. Pam, a master gardener, says natural plants in your garden can provide food for birds. Any type of echinacea, such as a daisy, should not be cut in the fall because it produces seeds that birds can eat.

3. Give them a place to build their nest

Especially at this time of year, birds are looking for a home. When looking for a birdhouse, make sure it has proper ventilation and drainage. Depending on the type of bird you want to house, take a look at the opening hole for them to enter. Small birds need smaller holes. You can also design your home to attract nesting birds. Pam said to make sure you have plants of varying heights in your garden that mimic the natural landscape. Different birds prefer different places to roost and build their nests.

For more information, watch the full video above. To learn more about Wild Birds Unlimited and what it offers, or to find the location nearest you, click or tap here.