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If you’d like to see more wildlife of the feathered kind in your backyard but had written off attracting birds as too time-consuming, expensive, or complicated, this simple guide will help you get started without much fuss or cost.
You don’t need to spend lots of money, effort, and time to attract birds to your yard, as a bird can hardly tell the difference between $5 DIY bird feeder and a $75 sculpted copper one. This guide will help you get started quickly and inexpensively, and you can decide later if you want to open a bird hotel with heated baths and a rotating buffet of handmade treats…
A few notes: Nearly every tip in this guide applies to apartment dwellers who have a balcony or permission of their landlord to put bird feeders outside. Also, for ease of use when referring to things related to bird size (types of feeders, types of housing, etc.), we’ll be using common birds for reference. Everybody knows about how big a sparrow is but not everybody knows how big a Redpoll is.
Why Bother Attracting Birds to Your Yard?
Among the multitude of reasons you might choose to attract birds to your yard, the principle—and most rewarding one—is that you enjoy the sight and sound of them. All other reasons largely pale in comparison to the amount of enjoyment you’ll get from simply having interesting bird species visiting your yard. Photo by wjkos.
That said, birds are voracious pest eaters. While birds are happy to alight on a feeder you’ve placed out for them and eat on your dime, many species are just as happy to hop about your yard picking off slugs, bugs, and other crawlies while they’re waiting in line. Even better, species of birds that may not be attracted to the type of feeder or the type of feed you have out will stop by because the presence of other birds gives them a sense of safety.
On top of enjoying their song and the fruits of their bug-snatching labors, you also get a chance to participate in the ecosystem of the birds. Most of the birds you’ll feed and see will be fairly common to your locale, but every so often you get the reward of seeing something unusual—like an endangered Kirtland’s Warbler—stop in your yard to fuel up on its incredible journey away from cold Canadian winters down to the Bahamas.
So where should you get started? Birds have really basic needs, and providing for even a few of them will ensure you’ve got quite an audience. Birds need food, water, shelter, and—in the springtime—nesting materials. These things can be provided in as simple a fashion as a tray of sunflower seeds, a pan of water, a bush to hop into, and an old plastic strawberry basket full of goose down and twine (for nest building). If your tastes or your budget are so inclined, you can go wild buying all manner of fancy feeders, nesting boxes, bathes, and professionally-blended nesting materials, but it’s not strictly necessary.
Top Photo by Rennett Stowe.