If you want to attract birds to your garden, you have to think like a bird! Birds need food, water, and shelter, so they’re attracted to environments that meet their needs.

Your garden should include plant species that local birds already recognize as food and nesting sources. So choose native species of plants for your garden, and think about the needs of birds when you make your selections.

Shelter. Dense, prickly shrubs provide excellent shelter. While some birds do prefer to build their nests high up in trees, others tend to gravitate toward dense, low-growing vegetation. If they feel safe from predators, birds will choose these spots to make their homes and raise their young.

Water. Like most animals, birds need a steady supply of fresh water. Anticipate this need by providing a birdbath or small puddles, and birds will view your yard as prime real estate of the animal world.

Food. Plant one or more bushes that produce berries, such as the Pyracanthus or Indian Hawthorne. Many birds love to feast on insects, so plant flowers such as roses (with hips) that are known to attract bugs. The birds will quickly identify your garden as a prime snacking spot.

Some trees provide convenient nesting spots while also producing fruit for your feathered friends to enjoy. The Hawthorne Tree and varieties of Crabapple Trees fulfill both of these needs, and as a bonus you will enjoy their prolific flowers and beautiful fall color.

Of course, supplementing these food sources with a bird feeder can also help. But keep in mind that mischievous squirrels enjoy bird feeders, too.

A few more things to keep in mind…

Consider the blooming times of your plants, and try to include a variety of species which flower or fruit at different times of the year. A steady source of flowers and fruit will encourage your little guests to stick around.

If you’re an avid birdwatcher hoping to catch a glimpse of more rare local birds, keep in mind that different species of birds are attracted to different food and nesting materials. Provide for their needs, and they will soon pay you a visit. Choose a variety of plants for your garden, and get your binoculars ready!

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