Something about birds singing in our backyard just completes our garden and home. Their melodies are absolutely enchanting and it’s easy to become an amateur birdwatcher without even consciously trying once you fall in love with identifying your feathered visitors. While getting birds to visit your garden isn’t quite as simple as collecting and planting your favorite flowers, there are lots of ways you can entice your neighbourhood birds to make your home their popular hangout. Your garden has lots of potential to invite all of your favorite birds in, and the best way to keep birds gracing your landscaping is to make your home a popular dining spot - especially in the winter when food is scarce. Giving the birds something to eat not only brings them to your yard to enjoy, but can be an important element in their survival during the colder months of our Pennsylvania winters.
FEEDING AND NURTURING BIRDS IN YOUR GARDEN
Just like some of our garden selections are chosen for their delicious flavors for our kitchen table, there are certain plants that are sure to be a hit with your local avian population. While some of your garden plants provide important nutrients or enticing fragrances, you can also make your yard more appealing to birds with popular plants to provide shelter!
The best trees for inviting birds into your yard are blue spruce, arborvitae, crabapples, flowering dogwood, oak, mulberry, red cedar, and serviceberry. Shrubs are also popular, especially those like cranberry, beautyberry, chokeberry, firethorn, holly, honeysuckle, sumac, and winterberry - many of which offer a tasty treat for birds.
FEEDS FOR WILD BIRDS
If you don’t have some of your local birds’ favorites already growing in your yard, all hopes of having them frequent your landscape are not lost! Even without popular vegetation for wild birds to get their winter nutrition and shelter in, feeders can be a hit with birds, offering plenty of tasty treats to them as they visit.
Just like other animals, different birds have different needs to keep them feeling their best. The best mixes of foods will vary depending on your local birds and also on the season - so knowing how to meet these feathered friends’ needs is vital in getting them to visit consistently. Some of our favorite feeds for the Lehigh Valley are:
Suet: Calorie-dense and full of fats, this feed is a great choice in the winter, when our local birds will surely need an extra boost of nutrients to survive cold nights. Suet is great for cold weather when your birds need the calories to keep warm, but it isn’t a good choice in warmer weather when it can go rancid quickly.
Cracked Corn: Cracked corn is a popular hit with a wide variety of our favorite local birds, like jays, blackbirds, doves, and sparrows. You might notice, though, that cracked corn isn’t just a popular choice for birds, but also other wildlife, like squirrels and deer.
Peanuts: We know from our own snacking that peanuts are an amazing source of energy and healthy fats packed into a tiny, delicious package. Packed with calories, fats, and protein, peanuts are sure to keep your local birds well-fed over the winter. Large birds, like jays and woodpeckers, might be able to handle whole peanuts, but many of your smaller locals, like chickadees, finches, and titmice, might need smaller pieces.
Fruit: It’s an important part of our daily diet, and birds can benefit from it just as much. For the birds that don’t seem to be enthusiastic about your seed feeders, you can put out tasty treats like grapes, oranges, apples, or melons. Dice up fruits that you don’t need and share your snack with the birds!
Nectar: A sweet nectar solution is the best way to bring hummingbirds home to you, and it’s also super simple to make at home. Fill up a hummingbird feeder with 1 part sugar and 4 parts water to give them something sweet to sip. Hummingbirds show a clear preference for red flowers, so a red feeder is sure to catch their attention.
SEEDS FOR WILD BIRDS
It’s common knowledge that birds love seeds. They’re not only a part of their natural diet, but also a key ingredient in most bird feed, as well. With so many of your neighbours undoubtedly using seeds to feed your birds, though, the question then becomes how to make your feed stand out against the crowd to attract your favorite birds to your home instead?
Sunflower seeds, especially black oil sunflower seeds, seem to be a bird favorite that brings them to your home time and time again. There aren’t many birds that aren’t tempted by them! They are thinner and more easily cracked than other sunflower seeds, making them a premium option.
Nyjer/thistle seeds are also popular and a staple for finches, pine siskins, and buntings - so offering them is sure to bring those to your yard.
White proso millet is a good choice if you want more ground-feeding birds, like sparrows, doves, and cardinals.
No matter the wide offering of options, there aren’t many ways to choose wrong with seeds, as they are bound to be popular with some of your local birds. Just make sure to check the ingredient list when buying to avoid mixes that are full of cheap fillers, like dyed seeds and wheat, that the birds don’t need.
Keeping your local wild birds full and healthy in the winter isn’t just a treat for you, but can also help them to survive the worst of our harsh winter days. Picking their favorite foods and fuels is a good way to make sure that you birds keep coming back to your yard to fill up, all while keeping them full. Both you and your birds will be happy to keep this relationship up all season.