Birds are like people – if you meet their needs, they like you and want to hang out.
Provide these three bird-friendly elements in your yard and prepare for the morning serenades.
There are three easy, cheap kinds of food that will attract songbirds.
Obvious, I know, but you have to provide seed strategically. Birds are territorial and some species are actually enemies.
To keep them all happy and singing in your yard, give them multiple feeders (two or three will do) in different parts of your property. Then the birds that don’t get along can eat and have their space.
Don’t over think the seed. Get the cheapest stuff you can find. The birds won’t care.
This is for hummingbirds and the like. Buy a nectar feeder (Tractor Supply has some cool ones) and mix the sugar solution yourself. Smithsonian has a simple recipe.
DO NOT ADD RED DYE. Just sugar water.
Hummingbirds are very territorial. I recommend providing at least two feeders as far apart as you can get them. Don’t want to provoke hummingbird fights.
Suet is gross but birds love it. Suet is bird seed in congealed beef fat (told you). It is especially important in winter, when birds need extra fat to stay warm.
Yes, birds can digest beef fat, thank you.
Again, Tractor Supply has a variety They don’t pay me for these endorsements, but I wish they would. Tell your friends.
Bonus: Peanut Butter
If you can’t get over the idea of hanging hunks of beef tallow around your yard, good old peanut butter will do the trick. We like the Jif all-natural variety.
Proper habitat is the single best, and easiest, way to attract songbirds. Strangely, the modern yard is engineered to repel them.
That’s because we are obsessed with finely manicured lawns with huge swaths of sterile grass and a strict hedge along the front of the house.
While this may satisfy your yearning for a Downton Abbey-esque severe British garden, birds hate it.
Many, if not most, birds do not nest in trees. They live in bushes and thickets, tangles of mix-mashed undergrowth where they can hide from larger predators like hawks, ospreys, and feral cats. You have to give this to them.
The great news is that this means less yard work for you, not more. That’s right, I am giving you permission to let a part of your yard go wild for the birds. Just let it go.
Seriously, do nothing. Let whatever grows there grow there and in a few years you will have habitat and birds, I promise.
One of my favorite ways to provide habitat (that still looks trimmed) is with vines on a trellis. In fact, I covered the front wall of my house with trellis and let a muscadine vine go crazy on it.
In two seasons I had a completely vine-y wall. And guess what? The following winter when the leaves fell off, I found a pigeon nest.
Habitat is everything. Ask yourself, “What would birds live in in the woods?” Grow that.
Want to read more on the benefits of providing natural habitat? Read this super article from Smithsonian Magazine.
We’ve all seen the cute bird baths in a garden. Get you one. Or a bucket full of rain water. Or a dog bowl. Whatever.
Just have fresh water for the songbirds to drink and bathe in and they’ll find it.
But what about mosquitoes?!
Never fear, there are perfectly safe bacterial insecticides that kill mosquito larvae but are harmless to birds, people, and pets.
The bacteria is bacillus thuringiensis and it’s pretty remarkable. You can also use it to safely repel bad bugs from your tomatoes and other vegetable plants.
Get Ready for the Concert
It is so easy to attract songbirds. You mostly have to loosen your yard a little, let it go shaggy in a place or two, and lay out a birdy buffet. If you build it, they will come.
And you can spend the time you saved not doing yard work enjoying the symphony.