You don’t even have to leave the house to get started with birdwatching. In fact, you don’t even have to get out of your chair…all you need to get started with twitching (what we call birdwatching in the UK) is a keen pair of eyes and ears. It does help if you know how to make the birds come to YOU!
In this article, we take a look at how to get the birds to bring the party to your back yard. There’s a few basic ways to do that, which we are going to share with you now…
BACKYARD BIRDING BASICS
First up, a few pointers in attracting the local birdlife to your garden or backyard. Getting a greater selection of birds can be as simple as planting the right type of flower, or leaving out sunflower seeds.
These are the most obvious things to set up in your garden, but then there is the question of where to place them.
Although you do want to attract the birds to your window, you don’t want them to collide with your window pane, so be careful not to place feeders or boxes too close to the windows and doors. Also, make sure they are placed well out of reach of any predators, such as wily cats, racoons, and squirrels! An un-strategically placed bird feeder could mean squirrel city.
Different bird species are attracted by different food stuffs, so try and source a variety of seeds and other meal types. Some like fruit, so think about putting apples and berries out for them. In cold, or freezing weather be sure to keep all the food sources topped up.
Birds will be looking for a place where they can come back, and reliably find food time and again. If you make sure that the feeders are always topped up, your garden should become a number one ‘gourmet snackbar’ for gannets in no time.
It’s also a good idea to get a few strategically positioned nest boxes for your garden or yard. Remember to clean them out each winter, and give them a good wash, before carefully and securely reattaching them in the spring. Likewise, the birdfeeders should be sterilized from time to time!
PLANT FRUIT TREES
Cherries, crab apples and the like should all bring birds flocking to your patch to chow down, so if possible, plant a nice variety of fruit trees. Not only will these provide a place for the birds to perch and nest, but fruit trees have the added advantage of looking very pretty too. And if you’re really lucky, the birds might even leave some cherries for you!
PLANT SOME HEDGES
Hedges are another good idea, to help get the birds to your garden, be it Privet or Hawthorn or something else that takes your fancy. Native berries are also another good idea to plant to attract our feathered friends.
HAVE A LAWN AREA
If you have spurned the concept of the lawn in favor of gravel, or concrete, or some other hard surface, now is the time to think again. Birds looking for worms or insects to feed on, like grassy areas and garden lawns.
…BUT ALSO GO WILD
As well as a neatly cultivated lawn, it might be an idea to leave a little area of your garden to go wild – if at all possible. It will help increase the numbers of insects in your garden, which in turn the birds will feed upon. Not dead- heading all your summer flowers immediately, and leaving some of them as ‘nature intended,’ may also aid your bid to be an ornithological oasis.
CREATE A LUXURY BIRD BATHROOM
It’s not just food that birds are seeking out, but also a reliable water source. If you can ensure somewhere for them to both drink and bathe, you are well on your way to seeing more birds close up. Especially if you have a camera trained on the birdbath.
The best baths will have a variety of depths, for the smaller and larger birds alike to have somewhere to frolic comfortably, with little places to perch in between – think of putting some small rocks or stones in there, for example. They also like to have some place to hop onto near the bath so that they can keep a keen eye out for potential predators – i.e. the neighbour’s cat. It’s a good idea to locate your bath close to a nearby ledge or branches,
Just like humans, birds like their baths to come fully equipped with running water, so, if you can, try and create one with a water source. Make sure that in the winter months, the bath does not ice over! Be sure to maintain the cleanliness of the bath at all times.
DO NOT DISTURB!
It’s important to strategically set up your yard so that all the different aspects of your bird attractions work together. For instance, do not place the feeders too close to the nesting boxes, as the noise from the feeding birds may be upsetting to the little ones nesting in the bedroom!
When planning your bird nesting boxes, make sure there are a variety of different sized holes, to accommodate all the different sizes of birds you might wish to attract. Be sure to space the boxes out carefully. Remember, what we said about making sure there is peace and quiet for the occupants of each box! Also bear in mind the weather, and do not place them in areas that may be exposed to very cold, or wet conditions.
GET IN THE KNOW
If you have done all this successfully, you should now be able to sit back, binoculars in hand, and simply wait for the birds to come to your haven.
But which birds can you expect to see? Obviously, this all depends on the area where you live.
Check out which species are native to your area, and which ones you may reasonably expect to see in your backyard.
Once you are armed with your field guide, and a trusty pair of binoculars, you will certainly want to head out to new pastures, both near and far away.