Food for birds is easy to furnish. Natural growth, such as berry bushes and fruit-bearing trees, can be supplemented with a variety of commercial products. However, the ideal management plan supplies as much food as possible through vegetation.
While food for birds, as for all life, is a basic essential, food provision is not the beginning and the end of birdlife management. Food must be accompanied by the two other habitat elements - water and cover - to enable wildlife to live in your backyard.
The goals when landscaping your bird garden are to supply natural as well as commercial foods and to provide the maximum number of homes for the maximum number of creatures. Choose plants which will give the greatest overlap in flowering and fruiting times. Certain evergreens such as cedars, spruces, and hemlocks provide food and serve as excellent year-round cover.
Birds live on a variety of plant life - berries, buds, fruits, and seeds. The more variety provided, the greater number of species you will attract. Manicured flower beds and neat borders offer little to interest the hungry bird. The more informal and "wild" your garden, the more hospitable your table is considered.
Food should be available, as needed, all year long. This however, is unlikely if complete reliance is placed upon natural food sources. To be sure food is abundant during the winter, provide it in feeders. Fill them all winter and into the spring until natural growth has a chance to take over.
Having two or more feeders cuts down on competition among species. For example, chickadees and titmice will readily approach a window feeder, while larger birds, such as jays and cardinals, prefer to feed farther from human habitation. Wherever you place your feeders, do not become upset if the birds do not immediately take advantage of the food you are offering. Birds are cautious and to ensure survival, might hesitate several days before approaching the feeder.
While feeders are an easy way to entice birds into view, they are not the only way. Birds often travel quite a distance before finding the materials needed to build their nests. And because these materials are rarely found in our backyards, human viewers usually don't see the gathering and incorporating of the nesting materials. However, it is not necessary for this interesting facet of birdwatching to go unobserved. If you provide various nesting materials in your yard, the birds will use these provisions and will have little need to search elsewhere.
House wrens make use of small sticks up to two inches in length. Soft mud in a flat pan, dead leaves, dried grass, straw, and small feathers attract swallows, robins, and wood thrushes. Baltimore Orioles use soft string, three to five inches in length. Grey and white string are suggested, as bright colors are more conspicuous and might attract predators to the nests after the eggs are laid or the young hatched.
By placing these materials where the birds can find them, one more stage in the lives of these fascinating creatures can be viewed.