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Attract Songbirds to Your Yard

One of the greatest pleasures of owning your own home is being in better control of your environment, including the sounds you listen to. Long before there was Twitter, the most enchanting tweets were from songbirds such as robins, tanagers, and finches. Imagine waking up to the cheerful melodies of chirping birds that add lovely sound, color and interest to your garden. 

If you want to welcome songbirds into your yard, here are some suggestions to attract them quickly and easily. 

Create an alluring habitat where the birds can feel at home. This means planting brush that is native to your area that will provide them with their basic needs – food, protection and a place to nest.  

M.S. Sargent and K.S. Carter, authors of  Managing Michigan Wildlife: A Landowners Guide, suggest that natural foods such as “fruits, nuts and seeds provided by trees, shrubs, grasses and flowers,” are best to attract songbirds.  You can get a list of local plants that provide the right foods through your county’s extension office or your local nursery.  

Insects prefer wild grasses, which can be a rich source of food for birds. Scatter leaves, twigs and other small debris you’ve raked up under your shrubs and flower beds to stimulate the right climate for insects and worms. The leaf and twig debris is great for songbirds to collect for nest building. 

Add feeders to make sure the songbirds have plenty of food. Songbirdgarden.com suggests that Tubular bird feeders attract finches and chickadees, among others and that the cage-like structure keeps out larger unwanted foragers. Platform, tray and ground style bird feeders attract bluebirds, cardinals, doves, orioles, quail, robins, sparrows, tanagers and wrens, among others. 

There’s nothing like tasty treats followed by a refreshing bath in the heat of the day. Birdbaths are great accessories to welcome to birds. Moving water, such as small fountains or drippers can create a “visual magnet” to attract birds to the bath. Birds splashing in the water is a delight to behold!

Birds won’t nest where they don’t feel safe. You may have to add some natural barriers, such as thorny tress ground cover, hollow logs, and dense shrubbery, to protect songbirds from cats, opossums, and other predators. 

Stephen W. Kress, of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, suggests that your yard should mimic meadow-like conditions as closely as possible. This keeps you from using as many herbicides and pesticides that could kill birds.  

While songbirds enjoy your garden, you’ll be equally enchanted by the cheerful music and natural beauty you’ve helped create.