You can create a backyard bird sanctuary. Learn more about attracting wild birds to your garden.
Growing up in the suburbs of Long Island, I took wild birds for granted. It always seemed as if birds were signing outside of my bedroom window in the morning. Cardinals, blue jays, robins sparrows, starlings, mourning doves, pigeons, seagulls…these were the birds I saw daily, frequent visitors to our lawn, garden, bird feeders and bird baths. My mother taught me the names of all the birds as she pushed my stroller around town while she ran errands (we only had one car when I was a kid, and my dad drove it to work, so my mom walked everywhere.) I just took it for granted that birds were everywhere.
Now fast forward to our move into Seven Oaks back around 2007. Our home was built on the remnants of an old farm, and the builder cleared three acres of loblolly pine trees to build our home and plant grass for us. The day we moved into the house, we threw open wide all the windows to air it out and enjoy a breeze on an unseasonably hot day.
I listened carefully but heard nothing but the wind soughing through the trees. I turned to my husband and said, “I don’t hear any birds!”
It was true. The woods were eerily silent. For months, we waited in vain to hear birds. Gradually we realized that several things had happened:
- The managed forest of loblolly pine trees provided such a monoculture that most species of birds could not forage for food or nesting materials; our woods were very quiet because the birds went elsewhere!
- The home construction and heavy machinery probably disturbed all the local wildlife, who moved away from the noise, hustle and bustle deeper into the woods.
- The big open meadows around our house, without any perching or screening areas, meant that the birds avoided the area instead of visited it.
By the next year, we began seeing colorful goldfinches on the sunflowers and pecking at the seeds from the Echinacea; soon, phoebes, crows, and many other birds arrived. The cardinal, Virginia’s state bird, began frequently the hardwood trees we left growing among the loblolly, and the addition of trees, nesting boxes and small garden areas on the lawns provided hospitable areas for bluebirds and other small birds. Today, our garden teems with wildlife attracted to the various trees and shrubs, as well as amenities such as bird baths and bird feeders added to the area.
The moral of the story: you do need to cultivate a habitat that birds feel safe and comfortable in if you want to attract birds to your garden.
Creating a Backyard Bird Sanctuary
I’ll never take birds for granted again after that experience. It’s one of the many reasons that I wrote my book, Attract Birds to Your Garden, and why I’m passionate about adding wildlife sanctuary areas to your yard – no matter how small a yard you may have.
Start Your Bird Sanctuary
You can transform even the smallest yard into a wild bird sanctuary. The key, as I learned from my experience, is to start with the basics. The following simple guidelines will help you assess your garden and begin transforming it into a backyard bird sanctuary. In subsequent posts, I’ll share more tips for creating a garden habitat that birds will love, as well as tips for feeding birds over the winter.
Assess your current yard.
- Do you have spaces for birds to perch on, such as mature trees?
- Do you have shrubs that provide privacy and hiding spots?
- Are there evergreens for winter coverage?
- Have you planted any flowers that produce seeds for birds, such as sunflowers or cone flowers?
- Do you have any spaces where you can hang a bird feeder, such as from a limb on a dogwood tree or another smaller tree?
- Can you put up a bird house of some kind?
- If you have a bird feeder, are you keeping it filled with seed?
Birds, like people, love variety. By filling your backyard with a variety of trees, shrubs and flowers, and a variety of habitats as much as space allows, you’ll welcome birds into your garden and find it filled with their beautiful song.
My book, Attract Birds to the Garden, is just .99 cents on Smashwords as an ebook, available in your choice of formats. It is also available as an ebook from Barnes and Noble, Amazon and other online stores, and in paperback format from Amazon. It will tell you how to cultivate a garden that becomes a backyard bird sanctuary, how to choose seeds to feed birds and more. Purchase a copy from your favorite book seller or wherever fine books are sold.