Spring is here. And, like me, the birds in my yard are not shy
about sharing their excitement.
My blooming trees have attracted a booming number of birds
within a matter of days. Their chirping chatter is frequent, day
after day. Although their singing wakes me a bit earlier in the
mornings, I often open my eyes to see bright rays of sunshine seep
through my bedroom window: A sight that makes me smile.
It's clear that I love spring, but I realize the season's
surprises cannot last forever. Spring flowers will fall from trees
and bushes to make room for greener, fuller canopies. So what will
happen to my chirping companions when the spring blossoms cease to
As I walked through my yard last weekend, I wondered how to keep
the birds coming back. What
do birds want from my landscape? What are they looking for when
they do visit? You guessed it: Birds want food.
Anand Persad, regional technical advisor and entomologist for
The Davey Institute, says birdfeeders may attract up to 50
different species of birds, ranging in size and behavior and
looking for food and safe refuge. But before you become too eager
to witness your landscape's transformation into a bird-watching
haven, consider the placement of your new feeder from the
perspective of the birds - and your trees.
Location, Location. "Think of birds first - your needs are
secondary," Persad emphasizes. "It's not necessary to think of
the large front window as the only location to place the feeder and
watch the birds." Instead, Persad suggests choosing trees that are
secluded from pet activity and other potential distractions.
Disturbances, such as squirrels that jump from tree to tree seeking
the bird seed, will compromise the birds' willingness to return to
the feeder again.
The tree's canopy and structure are important to consider as
well. "While trees with year-round foliage are ideal," Persad says,
"many tree species can be used. However, small trees are not good
for placement because they have sparser canopies and more
Because birds want to be secure from human and pet activity,
they typically enjoy trees with substantial canopies that provide
security and cover. Persad says trees such as pines, spruces,
hawthorns, oaks, maples and ash all provide "good to excellent"
locations for birdfeeders.
The Purchase. The next step is choosing the
type of birdfeeder to place in your yard. Before making a purchase,
Persad suggests considering the purpose of the feeder: Think
function before decoration. He says a house shape works pretty
well, but some materials should be avoided. Not only are sharp,
metal edges dangerous to birds that perch on the feeder, but also
plastic and glass materials may cause birds to slip off perches.
Natural wood materials work best, Persad advises.
Stay Put. Persad says it's best to suspend
birdfeeders from branches instead of using devices to attach them
to trees. "Think of the tree's perspective," he says. "Avoid
harming the tree."
For example, feeders suspended from thick, natural fiber ropes
provide sturdy, 360-degree views of the feeder. "You can see the
birds from all angles," Persad says. The more access birds have to
the feeder, he adds, the less they will squabble when they show up
Maintain and Gain. Proper feeder maintenance
includes an annual inspection for loose sides, exposed nails and
moldy food. "A feeder should not be a one-time thing," Persad says.
"It needs some seasonal attention."
When you leave the house for an extended period of time, ask a
neighbor, friend or relative to keep up with your birdfeeder while
you're gone. Although birds are adaptable, it's important to
frequently replace the seed and keep up with feeder cleaning and
other maintenance. To prevent feed from becoming moldy, "exclude
water from the feeder," Persad says.
Birdfeeders can help you - and the surrounding birds - enjoy the
presence of trees. They're also part of an "holistic effort" to
help better the environment. As the seasons change, you can witness
the natural transition of beauty and life from the back picture
window - all from the comfort of your home. As you continue to
maintain your birdfeeder, you can watch the birds enjoy your
landscape almost as much as you do.
NOTE: To determine the variety of bird species you can
attract in your area, Persad suggests contacting your local garden