How to Attract Birds to Your Garden

Male Cardinal and a Mourning Dove share a tray of seeds.

To attract birds to your garden is pretty easy.  And you don’t need too much special equipment.

On a cold winter’s day you can watch the birds from a window and draw and sketch them in your nature journal. No cold feet and hands.

Birds are pretty simple in their needs. Food, watershelter and a good safe place to raise their young.

You may have things around the house which you could use in attracting birds.

Let’s start with water.


Water is one of the hardest things bird and animals need to find. Especially in urban and suburban areas. For years all I did to attract birds was put out a dish of water. In the summer, I have to fill my dish about once a day, because the water evaporates so quickly. In winter the water stays filled for much longer. Or freezes.

I use a 12” diameter swallow plastic plant pot saucer. I just fill it with regular tap water and keep the water 2 inches deep or less. Small birds appreciate the swallow water. I put a couple of big rocks in my dish as a handy perch for birds. I placed my bird bath against a fence so the birds have a perch to scout the area for predators, before taking a dip.

Mourning Dove at bird bath with Water Wiggler
Mourning Dove at bird bath with Water Wiggler

The white-top contraption is a API 4WW Water Wiggler Water Agitator for Bird Baths. It runs on 1 “D” for a year or more.  It stops mosquitoes from laying eggs and creates movement that the birds love.

In the winter the water freezes. I use a Happy Bird DLXSS Deluxe Wild Bird Solar Sipper, a solar heated water container for the birds. It keeps the water unfrozen by solar power alone, down to about 25 degrees F.

There are also heating elements for ceramic dishes, not plastic, that can be used freezing cold war.


If you can afford it, putting out bird seed is a rewarding hobby. And a great way to have posing subjects for your nature photography.

Most of the birds that visit the backyard feeders eat seeds. To feed these seed eaters would take an awful lot of plants. So, filling a container with the all-time bird favorite black oil sunflower seeds or hulled sunflower seeds, will be sure to attract many diners to your backyard. Do yourself a favor and buy the hulled (shelled) seeds. No shell cleanup is needed.

And don’t forget you can plant those black oil bird seeds in a planter, too. Speaking of plants, there are many plants they you can plant to feed and shelter the animals around you.

napping Robin chick under the eave of my front porch
napping Robin chick under the eave of my front porch

Shelter and Nesting

If you have trees or shrubs nearby, the birds will appreciate it. They provide prime nesting sites, shelter during the cold and snowy winter months and a place to hide from predators.

Some birds will nest in bird houses. Birdhouses are often sized for different birds. These guidelines are good for when you want to buy or make houses for your backyard.

Providing nesting materials would help out the birds as they build their nests. String, dryer lint, yarn cut up from an old sweater, cotton batting, all make good nesting materials. A nylon mesh bag or an empty suet basket is a good container for putting out nesting materials.

So, if your provide these things water, food, shelter, and nesting sites or materials, and you will attract birds to your yard.


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