How To Create A Bird-Friendly Garden To Attract Birds Year-Round

10 Essential Tips For Making Your Backyard Into A Bird Oasis

Having birds in your garden brings about that endless, all-year-round cheer. Waking up to the sound of birds chirping in the morning is the most beautiful feeling ever.

Birds really do not require much in order to be happy visitors. When you provide them what they need, they will be attracted to your garden. Even small backyard gardens have success attracting birds!

Follow these tips on how you can create a bird-friendly garden to enjoy a variety of bird species all year.

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1) Grow Local Native Plants

Before making changes to your garden, visit your local park. After you’ve visited, you will have a good idea of the bird species that live in your area. Identify the type of native plants that thrive there as well.

By planting native plants in your garden, they will act as a natural extension to the environment. The native birds will have adapted to the rainfall, soil, temperature, and other environmental conditions.

Exotic ornamental plants may look pretty but could turn out to be invasive and repellent to local birds.

If you have trouble identifying plant species, many local plant nurseries have knowledgable staff who could help. Some nurseries even specialize in selling only native plants.

backyard native plants garden with sprinkler

2) Add Nest Boxes

Birds love gardens that offer shelter. Shelter keeps them safe from predators and gives them somewhere to build their nests.

Artificial nest boxes are designed to target specific bird species so it’s important to know which species you’d like to frequent your garden.

Another factor to consider is that even if you want a certain species to visit, putting up a nest box may not be enough. Some bird species have very specific nesting requirements that a nest box can’t recreate.

No matter the bird species, make sure that these boxes are securely suspended from the ground. Each season, check to ensure that the nest boxes are not occupied by other forms of wildlife such as bees or ants that could be harmful to the birds you want to attract.

Invasive house sparrows especially like to take over nest boxes. This forces native birds out and away from these aggressive territory thieves.

bluebird pair brining nesting material to a nest box on a post

3) Provide A Bird Bath

Birds love taking dirt and water baths whenever they can. Drinking water is also essential for birds to survive. This bird bath guide will cover everything you need to know about buying a bird bath.

When offering a water source in your garden, ensure that the water is in a shallow container. Birds are not comfortable with something deep or steep-sloped.

If you add rocks or pebbles to the bath, this will allow other animals, like bees and butterflies, to drink from the bath without drowning.

4) Give Them Food

If you want birds to come and make your garden their permanent abode, you have to lure them in with food and water.

Place multiple bird feeders out of the reach of squirrels and make sure to replenish them from time to time. Spacing feeders some distance apart cuts down on food aggression.

Remember, each bird species has its own requirements, including food preferences. Filling your feeder with their favorite seed is a great way to entice them.

Fill your garden with plants that will provide food to the birds. Some plants, such as the wild grape, provide food for many types of birds. 

Plan out your garden so that some of the plants will have food options no matter the season. There are plants that provide berries during certain seasons, even winter.

For example, wildflowers can provide nectar to hummingbirds in the spring and summer, and seed to goldfinches in the fall.

Always make sure that the birds aren’t susceptible to predators when they are feeding. Unfortunately, outdoor cats learn to wait around bird feeders in the hopes of catching an easy meal.

ring necked dove pair eating from a tree bird seed feeder

5) Leave Dead Branches Around

When you want to attract birds to your garden, do not be too neat. Leave branches and debris around and let it rot away.

Small insects such as spiders, earwigs, and worms thrive in this environment. Birds love feeding on these small insects. You will be providing food for them while still making the garden a natural environment. 

When trimming trees around the garden, leave a few dead branches on purpose. Some species of birds like perching on these dead branch piles.

Woodpeckers especially love dead branches and dead trees. They eat insect larvae which can be found under the bark. By leaving at least a few branches out of the way, you’ll be providing a natural habitat for them.

6) Limit Pesticide Use In The Garden

Use pesticides as sparingly as possible in your garden. If possible, try to use organic manure when planting your crops.

When getting rid of weeds, try to do it manually if the garden is small. Pulling weeds can be done a few minutes daily to keep them from overtaking your garden.

If it’s not possible to weed manually, opt for pesticides and weed killers that are organic and friendly to wildlife. You wouldn’t want the birds who visit your garden to become sick or killed due to eating contaminated plants or insects.

7) Let The Grass Grow

When mowing your lawn, you might opt to leave a small section of the garden or backyard unattended. Let the grass grow tall.

Tall grass provides covers and shelter to many different types of insects and small animals. This, in turn, provides food for the birds.

Perfectly manicured lawns or bare gardens are not attractive to birds. They prefer somewhere dense and less prone to disturbance from human elements. 

yellow warbler perched on top of a bush

8) Protect The Birds From Predators

There are many predators that threaten the livelihood of your backyard birds. In order to create a safe environment birds feel comfortable frequenting, you need to find ways to limit predators from hunting there.

Cats are among the biggest predators to wild birds, killing over 2.7 billion birds every year! To prevent your cat from eating wild birds, keep them inside.

Domestic cats are not native to the environment and do a lot of damage to the wild bird population.

9) Have Flowers And Fruiting Vines Bloom Throughout The Year

Just like bees, birds are also attracted to flowers. Make sure that the flowers or berries you choose are available throughout the year.

Some vines provide food for the birds while others, like poison ivy, allow birds to construct protected nests.

Wild grape vines are a good source of food for songbirds. Other favorite fruits for birds include raspberries, blueberries, and cherry.

By choosing multiple types of plants that bloom during different seasons, you’ll have a food source for birds to eat, no matter the time of year.

native plants garden in bloom with wheelbarrow and willow tree

10) Do Major Landscaping

As a last resort and one that appeals to enthusiastic bird lovers, you can consider creating a habitat that will be attractive to birds throughout the year.

This means you will need to do some landscaping. Stratify your garden into different layers using native plant species. 

The upper layers will hold trees, the inner layers will carry grasses, shrubs, and perennial plants. The lower layer will carry different forms of ground cover, vines, and low-lying plants. 

This habitat strategy will convert your garden into a natural one and make it most attractive to birds. 

Overview Of Creating An All Year Bird-Friendly Garden

Now that you know the basics of what birds are looking for in your backyard garden, you can tailor these garden tips specifically to the native bird species in your area.

By using native plants, providing a water source, and keeping your garden predator-free, you’ll soon have tons of wild birds stopping by or even making your backyard their home.

Let me know in the comments how you’ve transformed your backyard to be bird-friendly.

Rose Churchill headshot with cockatiel on her shoulder
Stephanie Rose

Avian Biologist & Bird Nerd

Head bird nerd at Spark Lark, Rose has been birdwatching for over 15 years. After working with rehabilitated wild birds as an avian biologist, she found a love of birds that has continued on. Now, she is raising her son to be an outdoor nature-loving child. Here, she shares her knowledge of attracting birds to your yard and tips for getting kids obsessed with birds.

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Tips to attract birds to backyard garden year round pin with hummingbird drinking from flower

How To Attract Birds To Your Backyard Garden Year-Round

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