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How can I encourage birds and other animals to my yard?

When I was very young, there was a beautiful blue jay nesting in a small bush. It had a lovely nest and laid 3 perfect eggs. Me and my sister, plus my grandma, would walk to the bush every day and check on the eggs. They hatched wonderfully and we watched them every day grow up, it was so beautiful! Sadly, the mother abandoned the nest. Now 7 years later the nest is still abandoned and has deteriorated, still no little birdies. How can I encourage new birds to come to my yard (but not use that old nest?) It is still extremely cold where I live (plus several feet of snow), but a few days ago I saw some beautiful finches on a tree. I left some soft yarn outside if they were making a nest, but it hasn't been touched, and the small breadcrumbs are still there too. Is it just the wrong season? What can I do to encourage animals and birds to my yard? I live in the midwest by the way. And do I HAVE to buy a bird feeder? Or can I use seeds or bread?


  1. A little birdie told me that a pine cone that is sparingly coated with peanut butter will help encourage birds to your yard.
  2. don't have outside cats or dogs and put up some bird feeders and maybe have a pecan tree
  3. I have lots of snow and I get dozens of birds daily. I get finches, Blue Jays, Mourning Doves, and many, many more. I have 5 feeders out on my deck and they come 3 times a day to eat. I also keep a little bird bath on the deck in the winter, as they do require water in the winter. Around noon I always put in fresh water, as this time of the year it freezes. You have to get feeders out there and eventually they will start coming. In the winter they will come because it is harder for them to find food so they will use the feeders.
  4. I love to be outdoors and I encourage birds, squirrels and any other harmless wildlife to my yard as well. I don't think you have to have a feeder, sometimes I just spread some on my walkway and they eventually come and get it. If you're serious about attracting a variety of birds permanently, (they remember where the food is, even after the winter) I just buy those little cheap feeders at the dime store and regular cheapo birdseed. The birds also like those little birdseed cakes, they fit into a hanging cage-type device. You will need to have a birdbath but place it a few feet away from the feeders so they don['t spill into the water. It will also need to be hosed off every few days and refilled. Doing those two things attracts a variety of birds to our yard including finches, doves, cardinals, thrashers, robins, and blue jays. Keep in mind that blue jays, while pretty, can be aggressive and chase other birds away from the feeder. So have several feeders placed a few feet apart. Some of the birds will feed off of the ground below the feeders, like the doves. However, I live in Georgia and you said it snows heavily where you live, therefore I think the native birds are different. We have had gorgeous weather this winter and the birds have stayed nearby, obviously not needing to migrate this year. There are also different seeds available to attract certain varieties of birds. As for your childhood story, something similar happened to my husband and I. The mother bird probably abandoned the nest because you and your family kept returning to it. I am an avid gardener and last spring my husband and I noticed a mother bird had built a nest in one of our hanging planters. We "checked" on the eggs often and also looked at them after they were born. We never touched the nest itself, but one day we stopped hearing them chirp. When we looked in the nest the babies were all dead. I guess we made the mom abandon them. It made us feel terrible. Good luck with the birds!
  5. It is never a wrong time to put of food out for our feathered friends. I have posted a great website for you, on how to attract wildlife to your backyard. It is best to view the website as there are a lot of different ways to attract them. Make sure you never use chemicals of any sort. The below info was taken from Eartheasy. Have a look! The four basic needs of your wildlife visitors are: FOOD, WATER, COVER and NESTING. Keep these needs in mind as you plan a backyard wildlife habitat, and consider the following: Plantings ~ Trees and shrubs are the main elements of any landscaping design and are important for wildlife shelter. Many tree and shrub species are excellent sources of food for wildlife. Select evergreen species for year-round cover and shelter. Select fruit or nut-bearing plants for a food source. Deciduous trees (leaf-dropping) can offer summer shelter for wildlife as well as shade for your home, while allowing light to get through during the darker winter months. ~ Plants native to your area will work best. The native plants are adapted to your growing conditions and produce foods and shelter compatible with local wildlife. Select plants that flower and bear fruit at different times of the year. ~ Plant in clusters, and multi-level. Have shrubs leading to small trees, alongside larger trees. Wildlife is attracted to multi-storey flora for shelter and forage. Diversity in the landscape is necessary. Some plants provide food but very little cover; others provide cover but little food. ~ Plant flowers to provide natural nectar. Tubular red flowers will attract hummingbirds; clusters of brightly colored flowers attract butterflies. Flowering annuals and perennials bring color to the yard and can be easily added, or removed, for variety and appearance. ~ Plant vegetation around pools, ponds or streams. This provides cover for critters attracted to the water. Water sources will attract more species to your backyard wildlife habitat. ~ Leave dead and dying trees, when possible. They attract woodpeckers, owls, wrens and insects for food. Planting to attract birds: If you're looking to attract specific bird species to your yard, here are some common plants and trees, and the birds they attract: Sunflower - "nature's bird feeder" attracts manys birds, such as chickadees, cardinals, titmice, nuthatches and buntings. Fuchsia, Foxglove, BeeBalm, Beardtongue - hummingbirds Roses - cardinals, sparrows, towhees Bramble berries (raspberries, blackberries) - wrens, catbirds, towhees Elderberries - warblers, goldfinches, grosbeaks Zinnias, Cosmos - goldfinches Holly - mockingbirds, towhees Juniper - thrushes, bluebirds, flickers, warblers,mockingbirds, sparrows Mountain Ash - towhee, bluechat, oriole, bluebird, cedar waxwing Pines - finches, warblers, robins, chickadees Dogwoods - summer tanagers, Bell's vireos, sapsuckers, thrush Oaks - woodpeckers, orioles, bluejays Spruce - sparrows, warblers, pine siskin, nuthatch, crossbill Firs - bluejays, robins, sparrows, tanagers Planting to attract butterflies: You can attract butterflies with a number of nectar producing plants. Butterflies prefer plants with large petals that provide a perch, though multiple small florets will also attract them. Butterflies are attracted to purple flowers, followed by yellows, pinks and whites. The Butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii) and butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) are two plants especially preferred by butterflies. Other popular nectar plants include marigold, primrose, sedum, dandelion, coneflower, hollyhock, lantana, goldenrod, aster, yarrow, nasturtium, honeysuckle, viburnum, lilac and zinnia. Butterflies prefer the heat, and are most active on sunny, warm days. They need "sunning" sites where they can warm up on cool mornings. Put a light-colored rock or concrete garden sculpture where the morning sun first appears. Butterflies also need a source of water. A shallow dish of water or a depression in a rock that retains water is ideal. Butterflies begin their lives as caterpillars, and most caterpillars are leaf-eaters. Don't worry if you see a few caterpillars or damaged leaves, but do target a serious infestation. Use a strong jet of water to wash away aphids or spider mites, and burn any tent caterpillar nests. Avoid using pesticides or herbicides, which can harm beneficial host and food plants and kill bird-attracting insects. Monitor A backyard wildlife habitat is a work in progress. You'll find some things that work and others that don't, such as specific plantings you favor or critters you may want to discourage. Keep a pair of binoculars and a pad with pencil near the best viewing window. Encourage your children to keep a record of sightings and observations. Review this journal with your children and acknowledge their interest and enthusiasm. As you learn from experience, you can "fine tune" your backyard wildlife habitat to encourage the species you most enjoy. "You can observe a lot just by watchin'." ..............................................................Yogi Berra Tips * Before getting started on your backyard wildlife habitat, check with neighbors and call your local planning department or zoning bylaw authority to be sure any changes you make to your yard are permissable. Unfortunately, many suburban developments discourage any departures from the typical mowed lawn with a few shrubs. * Locate birdfeeders and birdbaths near cover. Birds need escape routes, especially from cats. Overhanging branches from nearby trees are ideal. Feeders should be at least 6 to 7' off the ground, and several feet from any tree trunks to discourage squirrels. Before setting out feeders or nesting houses, find out which species are common in your area and can be encouraged to nest in your yard. Make or buy a bird house specifically designed for the bird you wish to attract. The size of the entrance hole is critical to prevent the eggs and young from being destroyed by larger birds--always check a list of appropriate hole sizes. More information about feeders and what kinds of feed to use can be found on our Birding page. * Fruit-bearing shrubs and trees will attract birds. Locate where dropped fruit will not be a bother to your use of the yard. * Insect problems? Build a bat house (we'll have plans on this site soon). Bats can consume 3000 mosquitos a night. * Pests: Discourage pests by covering window wells and patching holes around the house foundation. Cedar lattice under the deck will keep pests out from under. Keep garbage and compost pile secure from pests. Squirrels can be deterred from taking over your birdfeeders by setting out food for them away from the feeders - they will mark that area as their own, and be less interested in the birdfeeder. * Water: With birdbaths and small ponds, keep the water moving if possible, especially in a freeze. Set out a dish of water by the feeder during a freeze-up.
  6. Make sure there is no cat around.Then go get you some suet blocks for them to eat.They like fresh water and take the old nest out, they do not use old nests.Every bird does their own.If you have loud noises, that will deter them too.Trees are a deterant at times, they like to be able to fly down to the food, so throw it out in the open.I toss my scraps out my back fence.I have plenty at the moment..good luck with them...
  7. Grow dense and spikey shrubs in your garden. A safe place to hide always encourages birds to nest and vist. The spikey shrubs are particularly good, smaller birds duck into them when been chased by predators for safety. I'm not sure what grows in your area but I'm thinking about Berberis type shrubs.
  8. I drive a long stick in the ground. I then hammer in a bunch of nails to that stick. Then I put apples onto the nails. Now I have deer and turkeys!
  9. you can supply some type of bird bath,even a bowl off of the groung would do! supply them with a variety of seeds!you dont have to buy a bird feeder,but you can make them one!use a pie pan filled with seeds.and breads and berries!also you need to supply bird houses that will encourage them to lay there eggs and stay for a while!
  10. i feed birds year round i have a bird feeder hanging and i put a bunch down on the ground ( most of the birds eat on the ground) and i hang up the extra fat from the meat i buy in a small onion sack . different birds like different things if you can put up bird houses all around your property put up humming bird feeders its a little early for that but as soon as the last frost leaves they will be around bread is' nt the best feed sunflower and a mix seed is best i have all kinds of birds and squirrels even pheasant and deer at my bird feeder good luck
  11. I would suggest 4 things. A large platform feeder (just a piece of plywood with edges to hold the seed on) for almost every bird, even the ground feeders (use a mixture of wild bird seed and different mixtures with nuts and fruits). During the winter we put ours on the porch to keep it dry. We have ours on a four foot post sunk in a block of cement to hold it steady. A birdbath (you can turn 3 clay flower pots upside down, putting the largest on on the bottom, to make a tower and place a heavy bowl, saucer, etc. on top to make the bowl, birds need their baths to stay clean which helps keep them warm). The third is a suet feeder for the winter birds who need the fat (you can get recipes off the internet). Forth is a sugar-water feeder (hummingbirds are not the only birds who like it). Trees and bushes are nice, but if the neighbors have a lot of them you know the birds have a place to go. These are all inexpensive if you don't have a lot to spend and the birds are not picky about what their feeding stations look like. As for the blue-jay, we have a squirrel feeder full of peanuts and the jays raid it all day. They also like the corn and sunflower block we put out for the squirrels.