Inside: There are several ways you can attract birds and animals to your backyard garden. This article explores some of the best ways to do this. *Note there are Amazon links in this article. If you click I might make a small commission but always at no cost to you.
The sound of birds chirping in the morning from your backyard is a beautiful sound. If you love gardening, you understand how useful small animals and birds can be. Many creatures help keep pest populations down. Many insects and creatures are vital for pollination. Worms are essential for providing nutrient-rich compost and aerating the soil. To successfully attract birds and wildlife into your garden, you need to create the perfect environment for them. This involves transforming your garden to become as natural as possible. There are several ways to attract birds and animals to your backyard and this article highlights many of these strategies.
1. Use the most common bait – food
And what kind of bird food is better than worms? Most small animals find worms a delicacy and they will frequent your home more if you have some around. You can either buy worms from a shop or an online retailer or start a worm farm. Insect larvae and earthworms are the most popular types of food for birds and small animals. In most ecosystems, worms are found in the soil and are essential for composting where they turn organic waste into a form useable by plants and aerate the soil providing oxygen to plant root systems.
Various types of seeds will also serve the purpose. Take note of the birds native to your area in order to get the appropriate seeds. Sunflower and nyjer seeds are the most common bird feed.
Birds also love nectar -especially hummingbirds. You can make nectar at home by mixing a teaspoon of sugar with about 250ml of water. Ensure it dissolves and the water is at room temperature when you put it in the feeder. I prefer small hummingbird feeders as the nectar can go off if out too long in the sun. I get less wastage using small feeders.
Feeders play a huge role in attracting birds and squirrels. Getting several feeders, strategically placing them in your backyard, and keeping them clean will help you attract more birds and small animals. Feeders available include tube feeders, ground feeders, suet feeders’ , and Oriole feeders.
Another alternative to buying seeds is growing plants that animals enjoy eating. Though this can be a long-term and tedious process, growing peanuts, pears, corn, roses, and berries attract wildlife, especially squirrels and deer.
2. Mimic nature to attract birds and animals to your backyard
Human beings are working round the clock against the rules of nature. For instance, most of us are cutting down the few trees we have and we do not plant replacements. Instead of allowing bushes to grow, we clear any thicket around us. If you want to attract birds and small animals, you have to offer them a habitat.
Make a deliberate effort to retain your backyard as authentic and natural. You can do this in several ways.
- Upgrading the lighting: Installing lights up high in the trees or above the green decks gives a moonlight effect. You can also use silhouetting, cross lighting, and shadowing to reflect taller trees and cast shadows on the walls. If you have water features like a swimming pool or a pond, you can use submersed fixtures. These assist to enhance the dancing effect in the water showing beautiful color reflection and more shadow effects.
- Plant trees: If you have sufficient space, create a soft woodland in your backyard. The covering will not only be a shelter but a source of food as well. Get species like beech, ash, and elm for larger trees and conifers, alder, and yew for smaller plants.
3. Invest in flowering plants and shrubs
To attract birds and animals to your backyard include cornflowers, crocus, and bluebells. Bee balm, sunflowers and butterfly bush are also excellent choices. Any plant that flowers will attract insects, birds and other wildlife. Their nectar and pollen provide food for all manner of beetles, butterflies, and birds. Shrubs also provide protection for birds and nearby shrubs and trees will encourage birds to visit your feeders. They give them a place to hide from predators. Shrubs that produce berries have the added advantage of providing a food source for local wildlife.
4. Reduce the lawn area and cultivate some sort of wilderness
A well-manicured lawn looks great but it may discourage animals from forming a habitation since they cannot eat to their fill. Mammals like voles feed on insects and grass. Long grass and deadwood harbor insects like grubs and beetles which in turn attract other scavengers. Adding shrubs and allowing wildflowers to thrive will also attract more wildlife. Don’t mow sections of your property. Allow the dandelions to form a sea of yellow in your landscape. Pollinating insects love wildflowers and dandelion is an excellent early food for pollinating insects like bees and butterflies.
5. Invest in nesting to attract birds to your backyard
Nests create a comfort zone for animals to hatch, nurture and sleep. They provide shelter that protects these animals from different elements. If you observe the animals closely, you will notice they collect different pieces to create a nest. Birds, for example, use strings, grass, feathers, and leaves they find in this habitat to create their nests. If you have pets, you can dispose of fur near the birds’ eating places for them to pick and use.
Another great alternative is opting to buy nest boxes. You can get these from an ordinary pet store. Most nests come with nesting material for the birds to use. They come in various types in order to accommodate different bird types. Ensure you get advice on which nest boxes to invest in and where and how high to place them on the trees in your backyard. Be careful to mount the nests before spring so that by the time it’s breeding time, the birds will have already settled in. Consider placing at least 3 nest boxes for every 1000m squared.
6. Invest in live hedges
Live hedges play several roles. They shield the birds and animals from predators. The animals can hide themselves and their young ones when they sense danger. Hedges also boost breeding- animals love to breed under hedges because they provide some level of warmth and they also protect them from harsh weather.
Hedges filter winds and provide calm fresh air. This benefits both the animals and the garden as well. Blend various plants to make your hedge thick and strong. Some of those commendable plants you can use to build a hedge include elder, privet, cherry plum, blackthorn, and hazel. Add creeping plants to your hedge to boost foliage. The presence of foliage increases insects thus drawing more birds and small animals.
7. Put up a birdbath, pond, and any other water feature
If you have a pool or a pond, you have an added advantage because pools and ponds boost the ecosystem. Water is essential for life. Be careful with recreational pools, however. I have seen animals drown in my own pool. I like to leave floaties of some kind in my pool for birds and other animals to have something to crawl on to reduce the risk of drowning.
A birdbath compliments pools and ponds. Birds may play with pool water and drink but it’s not the same as having their own little pool. When the bird bath is being set up, ensure it is shallow and it’s built with sloping edges. Ensure you change the water weekly to keep it free from bacteria and algae. A pond is aldo a good addition as it can allow you to keep fish, harbor frogs, and beautiful insects (like dragonflies).
8. Avoid harsh pesticides and fertilizers
Pesticides contaminate food and water for birds and small animals. Being in contact with these chemicals can affect their behavior, make it harder to mate, and eventually cause the inability to reproduce as well as take care of their little ones. This increases their death rate.
The sub-lethal effects of pesticides and chemicals in the water have been studied in reptiles, mammals, fish, and birds. Pesticides and fertilizers mostly affect bees and frogs’ way of life, interrupting their feeding, mating, mobility, and navigation. The animals are likely to suffer deformities and die.
In order to avoid these effects, it is advisable that you apply green fertilizer (such as Sarasin and phacelia). If these are not available in your area, ensure every fertilizer or pesticide you purchase is Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved. Better yet, if you can avoid using them at all, it is a much better solution. Attracting wildlife to your landscape greatly reducing the number of pest insects; therefore, reducing or eliminating the need for pesticides. Reducing artificial landscaping options such as manicured lawns reduces the need for fertilizers. Compost created from your own waste is a much better option for fertilizing gardens.
I’ve presented many strategies to attract birds and animals to your backyard. You don’t have to try them all. Even using one or two will increase the wildlife you see around your home. Why should you do it? Have a rough day at work? Sit outside in your garden and let nature calm your anxiety and reduce your blood pressure. Have young children? Backyard wildlife provides so many learning opportunities. Check out the articles below to discover other inspirations and reasons for attracting wildlife to your home.
- How to Create an Absolutely Amazing Butterfly Garden
- How to Increase Bioediversity At Home by Careful Landscaping
- 9 Ways to Bring Nature into Your Life Regardless of Where You Live
So many ways to attract wildlife. I’m going to try all of them.