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September 12th, 2014

How to Attract Birds

You can turn your backyard landscape into a small bird kingdom by simply adding the appropriate trees and shrubs. The right balance of foliage in your backyard will create a bird-friendly habitat that is sure to attract a variety of your favorite birds. Your efforts will pay off in the end when you complete the creation of your own private bird-like sanctuary.

Trees & Shrubs

Trees - Do some research to find out what trees are native to your area. Planting native trees is important because they provide the correct habitat that native birds are looking for. For instance, a female Carolina Chickadee will bypass a dozen non-indigenous trees in order to find a one Willow Oak tree that naturally suits her foraging needs. Why, because her instincs tell her that a Willow Oak is where she is going to find the food that produce more insects than non-native species do. Native trees are more likely to provide the right combination of elements that indigenous birds require.

Shrubs - If you enjoy birdwatching, the opportunities are much better if you plant the right shrubs. For example, if you enjoy the sound of a mockingbird, then you might consider adding a chiltepin plant to your backyard. The chiltepin is a shrub that grows to about 4-5' feet tall, and during it's producing season, a mockingbird is sure to find it, as they love to eat the small red berry-shaped peppers that grow from it.

Shrubs and other plants that produce blossoms will attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds, and all doing their part in helping the pollination process.

Many birds build their nests in trees, however, the eastern bluebird prefers shrubs as low as 3-5' feet up from the ground. Mounting a light-weight bluebird nestbox on a sturdy branch in thick foliage will attract a mother bluebird and help her raise her young. Mounting near open spaces is even better, as they will have a wide view of insects on the ground from the nestbox location.

Bird Baths

Bird baths are a simple and attractive ornament on your list of bird-scaping efforts. Don't let your feathered friends stay dirty and thirsty, host a year-round bird bath in your backyard.

Bird Feeders

Bird feeders are very easy for some birds to discover and will become common visitors to your backyard, particularly in winter. Offering a variety of different bird food will increase your chances of attracting a wide range of birds. Pet stores offer a pre-mix of bird seed formulas and these formulas will vary. Try mixing your own recipe of suet, peanuts, sunflower seeds and maybe a few kitchen scraps and bread crumbs. With the right mix, you will see these birds regularly. Birds will be hard to get rid of when they memorize the location of a reliable source of food. Bird feeders can be used with seeds, nuts, fruit, suet, worms and scraps.

Bird Houses

Placing a bird house in your backyard is an effective way to attract birds in search of the right habitat. Creating a suitable environment for birds should be done first by planting a few trees, shrubs and some grass. Then consider a bird feeder, bird bath, a blooming tree if possible, and finally a bird house. Basic elements along with a diversified combination of bird attractions will create an ideal place for backyard birds.


Snags are dead or dying trees that are still standing and holding fast, usually at the bottom of a body of water.


Just about anyone can attract a finch, titmouse, wren, or chickadee. These bird species share similar likes and dislikes and by placing a properly designed bird house 5-10' feet about the ground near some trees and shrubs, at least a few of these species are likely to scope it out. Although the instincts of a bird can tell it a lot about a structure and it's strength, wrens don't seem to have consistent preferences as to where or what they nest in. Reports have shown that wrens will nest inside of a drinking fountain mounted on the outside wall of a building, inside old tires, bottles, and radiators in abandoned cars.

Birds are very dependent on water during summer and rely heavily on feeders during winter. Placing a bird house close to a feeder and water increases your chances of attracting birds and keeping them around during winter. Keep in mind that many birds are territorial and by placing a bird houses too close to sources of food and water may cause disputes between birds competing for food and territory. During summer months, this will become an even bigger problem as more birds are returning for the warmer months.

If your landscape has adequate space, consider several bird houses of different sizes and shapes. Open spaces along with trees and other variations including a water source will attract a wider array of birds and increase your chances of birds moving to your 'neck of the woods'. As far as decorative bird houses, there are no rules for deciding on paint, stain, materials or location. The idea is to have fun with them, however, your best chances of attracting the birds you want, following basic rules of materials will increase your chances of a successful bird garden. If you enjoyed reading about attracting birds, please read our article on the Birds of North Carolina»


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