A little extra wildlife around the house is usually a bonus when someone adds a garden to their yard. Seeing a flash of red from a cardinal or enjoying the twitters and chirps of songbirds can add a little something extra to the gardening experience. Besides the beauty and song they bring to your garden, many birds also search out many insect pests.

A little extra wildlife around the house is usually a bonus when someone adds a garden to their yard. Seeing a flash of red from a cardinal or enjoying the twitters and chirps of songbirds can add a little something extra to the gardening experience.Besides the beauty and song they bring to your garden, many birds also search out many insect pests.

Birds require three things in a garden; food, shelter and fresh water. If you can meet these simple needs, you will be rewarded with year round feathered friends.

Water is the simplest need to fulfill. A birdbath is the easiest way to provide water for your new guests. Clean it frequently and re-fill daily in hot weather. Place it near a tree or shrub where birds may perch to keep an eye out for the neighbors cat!Many people already have a water feature in their yard.Adding a shallow waterfall or lily-pool will surely attract many birds.

Shelter is also a simple matter. Birdhouses are useful for attracting many different species of songbirds. Make sure the holes are 1 -1 ½ inches across. Any larger will admit egg stealing species. Place them at various heights around the garden (out of reach of predators). Birdhouses also add a bit of whimsy to the garden. Shelter can also come in the form of shrubs and trees. Evergreens are a must have for many birds to build a nest and raise their young.Cedars, spruce, hemlock and pines provide excellent shelter for many Ontario birds. Deciduous trees are just as important to other species as nesting sites. Plant a variety of shrubs and trees to attract birds year-round.
Different birds feed on different things, so you should try different methods of meeting their specific needs. Seeds, fruit and insects are all part of the bird diet as well as suet in the winter. Bird feeders are the easiest way for us to meet the needs of many birds. Place the feeder in a spot where you can enjoy it too!But also in a spot where you can clean around it easily, because birds are often messy eaters. The seeds they scatter may germinate and you could end up with a garden full of sunflower seedlings! Hanging on a branch over the lawn is a good spot. Simply mow down any seedlings as you cut the grass. Peanuts, black sunflower seeds, cracked corn, millet and nyger seed are all welcome additions to the feeder. The style of feeder and food used will determine the types of birds you attract, so choose accordingly!

Fruit trees and shrubs will attract birds, especially the beautiful but noisy Bluejay who will gladly share your cherries and apples with you! Robins, thrashers and waxwings will also visit these trees. Raspberries, currants and serviceberries are all fruits that will draw birds to your garden. Avoid fruiting mulberries, as bird droppings will leave purple stains onjust about everything in your yard.

Here is a short list if tree and shrubs to attract birds to your garden:

  • Pines, spruce and hemlock- will attract chickadees, cardinals and crossbills.
  • White cedar- attracts finches, pine siskens and redpolls.
  • Prunus species (cherries, plums, pears)- attracts jays, robins and waxwings.
  • Birches, hop-hornbeams, and alders attract smaller, seed eating birds.
  • Red/white ash- provides fall food for cardinals
    • The latin name of mountain ash (Sorbus aucuparia) literally translates to “I catch birds.”
  • Rosehips, wayfaring tree, nannyberry (both of which are viburnums), dogwoods and sumac are also important foods. They are especially important during the winter months.