Building a Backyard Bird Sanctuary

Bring moving water into your landscape to attract birds and wildlife.
Bring moving water into your landscape to attract birds and wildlife.

“Watching the birds in my backyard is a peaceful, quiet easing into the routine of the morning. I forget I am in the middle of a city, and am reminded of my childhood home in the country.”

Attracting birds to your home can be a simple, enjoyable and calming experience. By creating a nurturing environment you can easily attract the birds from your area into your backyard. I live in the middle of the city in a busy neighborhood, near train tracks, a high school, many dogs and a busy street. My neighborhood isn’t exactly quiet, so I have worked to create my own little sliver of peace and calm.

My mom and I have created a relaxing morning ritual of drinking coffee and watching the birds at their feeders through the french doors. It is a peaceful, quiet easing into the routine of the morning. I forget I am in the middle of a city, and am reminded of my childhood home in the country.

Small Birds feed off a thistle feeder while a squirrel feeds on a large, open feeder.

If you want to start your own habitat the primary bird needs you must meet are food, water and nesting habitat. There are a variety of feeders on the market with different pros and cons. Visiting your local gardening and wildlife supply store is the best way to do research and determine the type of feeder you need depending on the types of birds you want to attract. I’ve decided to be non-selective and want all birds in my backyard (so long as they’re getting along), and use a large, open feeder that holds birds of all weights. I recently put up a small thistle feeder which is only suitable for smaller birds to make them feel welcome despite the bullying Mockingbird in my backyard. This winter we had all varieties of sparrows, chickadees, cardinals, hawks, robins, blackbirds, blue jays, cedar waxwings, nuthatches and woodpeckers. Just about every type of bird you find in this area.

I generally fill my larger feeders with Black Oil Sunflower Seed once a day (note the shells from this seed really leave a mess) and the feeders for small birds with thistle. I also scatter seed on the snow covered ground to give them a little extra something on the coldest days. Lining up the occasional offering of nuts (shelled and unshelled) will bring birds and other wildlife to your space. Pieces of shredded stale bread are always a bird favorite, too, and quickly disappear. There are also many varieties of smaller seed that are held in enclosed feeders with perches.

Water and nesting options are equally as important as food if you want to attract more birds and keep them in your environment. Birds are particularly attracted to moving water elements. Small water fountains or dripping water into a bird bath is a bird’s best friend for bathing and drinking.

The options for bird houses and nesting are endless. Of course trees, which also provide shelter, are a natural nesting space provided the birds have access to long grasses, twigs and other nesting materials. You don’t really have to do much as birds are very resourceful. But there are birds that enjoy houses, too, and a variety of houses are built specifically with their preferences in mind. If you need additional information the Audubon Society is an excellent resource for all things wildlife related, particularly for native species.

The song Feed the Birds from Mary Poppins often comes to mind when I watch my birds at the feeders in the apple tree outside my window. Such a sweet song in Julie Andrews’ melodic and angelic voice. It always brings me peace. Hopefully a few birds in your back yard will bring you a little more peace, too.

Female Cardinal in the winter barren apple tree.
Female Cardinal in the winter barren apple tree.

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4 Replies to “Building a Backyard Bird Sanctuary”

  1. She is so pretty, looks like she has a belly full of eggs? Ill start saving some dog hair for you, they love the thick Zoe stuff to make thier nests. Great job Jes.

    1. She could have a few eggs in that little belly. 🙂 And I’m sure Zoe’s fur is the perfect nesting material – So warm and fluffy!

  2. I built three blue bird boxes and mounted them on the fence posts near some trees about a month ago, and within a few days i saw several blue birds on the fence by the boxes, so I think there will be baby blue birds flying around soon!

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