Create a Bird Sanctuary: an activity for children of all ages. If you’ve read the lesson, you already know that birds can be both a blessing and a blight in your garden. As pesky as birds can be though, they also play a vital role in your garden’s ecosystem by consuming many of it’s pests. The Royal Society for Protecting Birds (RSPB) offers a free guide on how to attract birds to your garden. The Audubon Backyard Birdwatcher also provides many valuable feeding and gardening tips and techniques that create a bird friendly habitat.
- Read below regarding the variety of options available for attracting birds to your garden and decide what method(s) work best.
- Bird table/feeders – Provide food out in a bird table/feeder year round. Buy an organic mix that includes husk-free sunflower seeds and oats, canary feed, hemp seeds, suet, and mealworms. It’s important that the bird feed is organic as even one tiny grain treated with pesticide can poison the birds. There are many different types of feeders available. There are ones you can make (such as birdseed ornaments or pinecone feeders) and there are ones you can buy. You need an assortment of food and different feeders to attract the maximum number and variety of species. We recommend this window bird feeder and sip and seed feeder from Amazon for one of your feeders. Make sure to clean the tables and feeders regularly to prevent a build-up of bacteria that can kill birds. In addition, make sure to hang the feeder at least 6 feet from the trunk of the tree and other large branches and/or consider using a feeder that has a cage which can protect the feed and birds from squirrels and predators. Be aware that there are pros and cons to feeding the birds. I encourage you to read this interesting and educational article.
- Bird bath – Place the bath about 10 feet away from trees and other shelter where predators may hide. Provide water in a bird bath and change every 2-3 days in hot summer months. The RSPB advises using a sloping bath with water about 1-4 inches in depth. Adding a stone to your bath will help smaller birds maneuver better. Like the feeders, make sure to clean your bath regularly.
- Plants – Decrease the use of pesticides and reduce your lawn area to grow a garden instead. Select a variety of native trees and plants of varying heights to provide food and shelter for the birds year round. “A yard filled with colorful, hummingbird-friendly flowers provides an additional food source for hummingbirds. Red, yellow or orange flowers with tube-shaped blooms are best, as the hummingbirds can insert their long, thin beaks into the flowers. Nectar-rich flowers include blooming vines such as honeysuckle vine (Lonicera spp.), or trumpet creeper vine (Campsis spp.). Hummingbirds are also attracted to bee balm (Monarda spp.), bleeding heart (Dicentra spp.), beard tongue (Penstemon spp.), zinnia (Zinnia elegans) and red or blue sage (Salvia spp.)” (M. H. Dayer, Master Gardener and Master Naturalist). For more ideas, read this article on how to create a bird friendly landscape and/or watch the video below.
- Nest boxes – Place a nest box in your garden as soon as you can. Birds will often scope out the area for breeding in spring. Put out extra nesting material such as material scraps, yarn, string, grass, feathers, dog hair etc, for the birds to easily grab and use.
- Draw the different ways to attract birds to your garden.
- Place the page(s) in a protector when finished and include them in the garden notebook/journal.
- Take pictures and tag #theabundantgarden on Instagram to share your fun and for an opportunity to be featured @theabundantgarden.