How to Attract Birds to Your Garden


A male Cardinal and Mourning Dove eating from a platform feeder.
A male Cardinal and Mourning Dove eating from a platform feeder.

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.

stone water bath
stone water bath

Water to Attract Birds

Water is one of the hardest things bird and animals need to find. Especially in urban and suburban areas. I put for years all I did to attract birds was put out a dish of water. In the summer, I’d 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 inch 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 on 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 you can a solar heated water container or bird bath heater 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 in freezing cold weather. Bird Bath Heaters on (affiliate link).

A Downy Woodpecker at my bird feeder.
A Downy Woodpecker at my bird feeder.

Food to Attract Birds

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.

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 surrounding animals.

Sleeping Robin chick on the eaves of my front porch
Sleeping Robin chick on the eaves 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 birdhouses. Birdhouses are 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 you provide these things water, food, shelter, and nesting sites or materials, and you will attract birds to your yard.


More Posts on Attracting Birds

Attracting Birds with Water

Put out Nesting Materials and Nest Boxes, March 1

Attracting Birds with Fruit Trees and Berry Plants



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