Sometimes you want to head out into the wilderness to see birds… and sometimes you’d like them to come to you! If you’d like some more birds in your backyard, here are ways to bring them.
First, the basics: birds are looking for something to eat, a place to live, and a way to clean up. Adding any of those things to your yard will increase your bird visitors.
Restaurants for birds:
Birdseed ornaments: making these cute ornaments is quick and easy – they’re made from birdseed and gelatin!
- 1 gelatin envelope
- 1/4 cup water
- 3/4 cup birdseed
- string or yarn
- waxed paper
- cookie cutters (we used hearts, stars and dog bones – why not!)
- Mix the gelatin in with the water in a small saucepan.
- Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium to high heat, stirring constantly.
- Remove from heat, and stir in the birdseed.
- Place your cookie cutters on a piece of waxed paper, and fill then half way with the birdseed mixture.
- Create hangers by cutting a piece of string or yarn and tying a knot with the ends. My pieces were 4 to 5 inches long; you may need longer hangers based on the size of your tree branches.
- Place the knotted end of your hanger into the birdseed ornaments near one end, then add additional birdseed to cover it up.
- Let dry for about 24 hours. Flip them occasionally. You can set them out in the sun to speed up the drying process.
- Once they are dry – push out of the cookie cutters, and hang in your yard!
Hanging feeder: you can make a quick bird feeder by spreading peanut butter on a pinecone or empty toilet paper roll, then roll it in bird seed. Hang it in a branch you can see from your kitchen window for mealtime birdwatching!
Ground feeder: Some birds, especially larger one, prefer ground feeders. This can be as simple as a box filled with birdseed – just make sure it’s in a place not accessible by your pets.
Hummingbird feeder: Hummingbird feeders can be purchased at the store, or you can make your own. Here is a tutorial from the National Wildlife Federation for a cute hummingbird feeder made from a plastic water bottle: https://www.nwf.org/kids/family-fun/crafts/hummer-feeder.aspx . When we made ours – we used flowers from a lei from the dollar store to decorate it. We did have some leaking around the straw – I’d suggest a layer of bathtub caulk where the straw comes out of the water bottle if you have some handy.
Homes for birds
If you have existing bird nests in your yard – don’t disturb them, as many birds will return to the same nest year after year.
You can make a birdhouse from a kit – these are available at local home improvement stores such as Lowe’s or Home Depot. Here’s an inexpensive kit available from the Home Depot web site: http://www.homedepot.com/p/Houseworks-Bird-House-Kit-94503/100659246.
Another option is to make a quick bird house from a milk carton – this is a classic because it’s easy and birds like them! Choose an appropriate size for the birds you’d like to attract. Thoroughly clean and wash the carton, then tape or glue the top closed. Cut a circular hole in one side an inch or two up from the bottom of the carton. Paint and add some nest materials such as small sticks if you like. Punch a couple of holes in the top, and use them to hang your carton with string or rope, or set in a sheltered location.
Baths for birds:
Birds love baths; in fact we’ve frequently shared our local public swimming pool with birds hopping in for a quick clean up.
If you have a bird bath and keep it filled with clean water, local birds will start to visit regularly. There are many options, as birds are willing to bathe most anywhere!
First, there are bird baths available for purchase, like this one in my yard:
Alternatively, you can make a bird bath by yourself with just a few materials! Head for a local thrift shop, and purchase a large plastic mixing bowl. Then, track down a post or pole to mount it on, such as an old fence post or broom handle. You can also find a location you can place or mount your bowl where birds can access it but it is safe from pets – such as the end of a wooden fence, or on a table or planter. Nail the bowl to its base location (yes just pound a nail through the bottom of the bowl into the base piece) to keep it from falling or blowing over, if appropriate. If you have bathtub caulk handy, put a thin layer over the top of the nail to prevent water leaking out around it. If you used a stick or post, you’ll then need to dig a hole and set it in, then refill the dirt to make it stable.
If you have a small wading pool (inexpensive plastic ones are for sale at many places during the summer) and keep it filled with several inches of clean water, birds will happily use it for bathing as well.
Even a few of these ideas will bring many more birds to your place this season. Happy birdwatching!