In the last few blog posts we talked about backyard water features and building ponds. If you are like many Canadians, you may be fascinated by the number of birds that visit your backyard and wonder how you can attract even more of them. For many bird watching is a fascinating hobby. Here are some tips toward helping you establish a backyard paradise that is welcoming to birds of all species without draining your wallet.
1. You can start by purchasing a Birdbath. Prices for birdbaths can range anywhere from 20 dollars for a bulk produced garden center plastic model to well into hundreds of dollars or more for the sculpted concrete model complete with lights and a waterfall into your garden pond. One of the benefits of building a pond in your backyard is that birds are attracted to water. If they see the glitter of sunlight off surface of your water feature, it will bring them flying in. So, for attracting birds to your yard, the cheap plastic one works as well as the more expensive model. If you are on a budget but you must have a better model, check out the yard sales in your neighborhood for bargains on a good used birdbath. Amount budgeted: $25.
2. You should invest in a Squirrel Proof Birdfeeder. For approximately 30 to 40 dollars you can get a squirrel resistant bird feeder. These feeders either prevent squirrels from accessing the feeder or is set up in such a way that their weight prevents them from accessing the seed inside. Because birds are so lightweight, they are able to access the feeder and feed These feeders do cost more, but it will be offset by the savings in food now that you are no longer feeding the squirrels and the birds. As an added bonus, there is the entertainment value of watching the squirrels try to access the feeder and getting foiled again and again. Amount budgeted: $40.
3. Purchase High Quality Seed. A lot of commercially prepared seed out there is simply dirt cheap filler seed. Invest a little more and purchase black oil sunflower seed as you will attract a larger variety of birds using this type of seed. Most of the home center stores offer bags as large as 50 lbs. I found that if you go to agricultural feed store, you can also save money on sunflower seed. You can start with a five-pound bag. That way you will only spend about $6 – $10 for the initial supply of seed. Amount budgeted: $10.
4. Hang Suet. Suet is not cheap, but if acquired in bulk it can cost you less than $1 per block. A suet holder should only cost you another 10 dollars at most. If you can, place the suet a fair distance away from the birdfeeder. At the same time make sure it is still visible so you can still enjoy the “traffic” flying from the birdfeeder to the suet and over to the birdbath. Suet can be a live saver for birds like chickadees that spend the entire winter. Chickadees and other birds that don’t migrate South for the winter burn up a lot of calories just to stay warm. By providing both suet and sunflower seeds year-round you are providing our feathered neighbors with the calorie dense nutrition they need to thrive during our very cold winters. Amount budgeted: $15.
5. Provide Shelter and Cover. It is doubtful that your yard is a barren landscape, so you more than likely already have ample amounts of shrubs present. Birds need a place to rest, to check out your yard for food that is available, and most importantly a place to avoid predators. If you can consider moving shrubbery around to provide a safe haven for your feathered friends. If you want, you can add more trees and bushes to create an ideal backyard habitat. One practice that use to be quite common is the installation of purple martin house. These birds can help keep your back yard mosquito free so you can enjoy your patio or deck during your summer eveningsAmount budgeted: $0 — use your own sweat to move shrubbery, if needed!
Total expenditure to get your birding program in place: $80. The remaining funds can be used to replenish your sunflower seeds and suet as you run out in the coming months. You can check birding books out from the public library or pick them up from Amazon if you need reading material. The one I would recommend is “Field Guide to Birds of North America,” by Kenn Kaufman.
Now that you have everything in place, you should be able to attract more birds to your backyard almost immediately. If you live in an area frequented by chickadees, house finches, cardinals, nuthatches, goldfinches, orioles, bluejays, they will arrive and eat the sunflower seeds. Wrens, nuthatches downy woodpeckers and flickers will be common visitors to your suet.
In summation, by transforming your yard into a backyard paradise filled with the wonders of Nature’s feathered friends and you will be joining in with the majority of Canadians share a love of this common hobby.
For more information about birding please visit the National Audubon Society’s web site.
*Vandal’s Landscaping is a family business owned and operated by Todd Vandal and his wife Brooke Vandal, providing amazing landscapes and property maintenance in Winnipeg and surrounding areas since 1999.