Like every other created thing in the animal world, birds have three basic needs: food, water, and shelter. By providing these, we have a great opportunity to attract a wide variety of these beautiful winged creatures to our yards. Let’s start with the last, first, shelter.
According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (the branch of zoology that deals with birds), “Birds need to feel safe in order to visit your feeders, and providing shelter can help them escape predators and harsh weather conditions. Evergreen trees and shrubs provide excellent shelter, and a large brush pile is also a favored refuge for backyard birds.” [IDEA: Throw your fresh Christmas tree in the backyard until spring; it will provide needed shelter for some creatures.] Another way to provide shelter for the birds is by hanging shelter boxes. Many common feeder birds are comfortable nesting in man-made birdhouses. Cornell Lab states that bluebirds are also “likely to inhabit backyard bird houses, and they can be attracted to your feeders by offering mealworms.” Keeping cats indoors is also an important part of creating a safe environment for backyard birds.
Second, providing water is an effective way to attract many species of birds (Running water is especially attractive to birds.). If you don’t already have a fountain in your yard, you may want to consider adding one in spring. Finding unfrozen water in Wisconsin in the winter is a real challenge. Therefore, many companies now produce heating elements that nicely fit into the bowl of any bird- bath. A heated birdbath is also an option to consider, or use your imagination to find another creative way to keep fresh water available somewhere in your backyard.
Third, and most obvious, birds need an ample supply of fresh food. A list of recommended seed varieties is found on the next page, along with the species they usually attract. Food needs to be kept fresh, since a number of bird diseases affect wild birds and some could potentially be spread when birds congregate at feeders. Feeders need to be kept clean as well. If feeders are not kept clean (every two weeks is recommended), the leftovers can grow bacteria. After washing, be sure to dry your feeders so the food remains dry.
By providing food and water, as well as natural and man-made shelters, you take part in creating a safe haven for wild birds. But not only will the birds benefit, you and your family will enjoy countless hours of watching this incredible part of God’s creation. We have all you need here at the Backyard Bird Center:
- heated birdbaths and birdbath de-icers
- a wide selection of seed mixes and suet blocks
- and much, much more.
Please stop in and visit us sometime soon.