Attention, Birders and Wildlife Lovers – The spring is drawing closer! Wait no more. Let’s get ready for the biggest breeding season of the year. During the nesting season, there are many ways we can encourage breeding birds to take up residence in our garden and help fledglings survive and thrive. But birds could be very picky to their nesting sites when they commence breeding. To get ready for the breeding season, you need to make your backyard more bird-friendly. Don’t know how to start? Here, we’ve wrapped up some tips to make your backyard an inviting place for your feathered friends.
Provide Lots of Shelters
Birds need a safe, warm and dry place for rearing their young in the spring. It may seem obvious but a well-placed birdhouse can mean the difference between breeding success and failure for a cavity-nesting bird. It protects them from predators, gives them a shelter to raise the young and helps them weather the extreme climate. Different species of birds nest at different seasons. The earliest batch starts searching potential nesting sites around January in the northern hemisphere, while on the other side of the globe, the investigation will begin as early as in July. So you need to Hurry Up Now! But if you accidentally miss out on the breeding season, there’s still a chance that you may have unexpected visits from passers-by who’re looking for temporary shelters.
The placement of your birdhouse makes a startling difference in attracting certain types of birds. Some species like wrens and chickadees are more attracted to birdhouses mounted 12 feet high, while birds like bluebirds will be more willing to nest near the ground (6 feet should be fine.). The birdhouse placed under eaves or roof will be exposed to less moisture and last longer. And it should be mounted slightly downward facing away from prevailing winds to avoid the strong breezes and water splashes in spring. And the birdhouse should be mounted in a relatively open area to ensure that birds have a clear sight and flight path. And for safety concerns, it is also not recommended to hang your birdhouse close to bird feeders or birdbaths, for it will only increase the chances of predator attacks.
Put up a Bird Feeder
It’s also a good idea to put up a bird feeder to provide wild birds with supplementary food during the breeding season. The bird feeder is not only an attractive addition to your backyard but also a useful tool to boost the survival rate of the offspring. Since different birds dwell at different heights, you can put your feeder(s) at an appropriate level to attract specific kinds of birds you would like to observe. If possible, it’s also recommended to place several different bird feeders at different heights. And your bird feeders should be hung at least 6 feet high in an open area for squirrel-proof purposes. If you’re using a window feeder, place it right against the window or at a close distance of no more than 3 feet to avoid window collision.
And you should switch to breeding diets – some high-energy bird food like seeds and nuts during springtime. Different bird species have different preferences for specific types of bird food. Hummingbirds are more attracted to nectar or other sugar-infused bird food, while blue jays’ favorites would be peanuts and berries. But among all, black oil sunflower seeds are most appealing to a great number of birds for their high nutrition and calories. And your food choices will also get influenced by what type of feeder you use. Safflower seeds will work well in platform or hopper feeders, while nyjer seeds will be more suitable for tube feeders. And to prevent birdseed spoilage, it’s better to place your bird feeder (hummingbird feeders in particular) in shaded or sheltered areas.
Provide a Clean Water Source
Different birds have different ways to keep hydrated. Some can get water from their diets such as insects and fruit, but for birds are feed on seeds (liquid-free), they need to find water else. But more than ever, it becomes more difficult for wild birds to find freshwater, so giving them easy access to water for drinking or bathing will help them tremendously. To provide a clean water source for your feathered friends, you can put up a birdbath or mister in your garden. It’s always better to go for a shallow-bowl birdbath (no more than 50mm deep), so birds of different sizes and species can comfortably perch on it. And you need to place your birdbath away from the bird feeder so it won’t get polluted by feeding debris. You also need to change the water regularly as leaves and bird droppings will contaminate it. By changing the water, you can also curb mosquito infestations.
Create a Bird-Friendly Garden
The major factor that determines whether a bird will nest on your property is the overall environment of your backyard. And here are some tips you may find useful to create a bird-friendly nesting zone. Growing plants that produce natural bird food will be very helpful in attracting more feathered visitors to your garden. If there are some dead trees, wasted trunks in your backyard, leave them. They will make perfect materials for nesting and shelter for a vast majority of birds. And you should avoid any use of pesticides for they will only do harm to your guests’ health and pollute the entire ecosystem in your backyard. Last but not least, a bird-friendly backyard should be one free of the harassment of predators. If you raise a cat in your house, you’d better keep a close eye on that naughty fella. If other creatures are threatening the safety of your little feathered friends, you must take quick action to help them deter any potential danger as well.
Last Thought – Breeding Season Advice
1.Don’t disturb breeding birds: Some birds will become very aggressive in defense of their nests, territories, food/water supply, and their mates. And if the breeding birds are disturbed while incubating, they may abandon their nest and eggs. Disturbances may come from a variety of sources, including but not limited to: the presence of people, loud noises, predators, pests, etc. So remember to mind your step and keep your pets indoors during this time.
2. Don’t touch the nests or baby birds: After you touch the nests, you might leave your scents there, which will attract predators and put the nesting birds and hatchlings in great danger. The parent birds would rather abandon and sacrifice the whole brood when they feel insecure. And if you find a baby bird accidentally falling out of the nest, you might as well leave it alone if you see its parents nearby. You can only take action when you find it’s a nestling or it is left unattended after a long time. But it’s better to seek professional help in such cases. For more information, please continue to read What to Do If a Bird’s Nest is Seen Nearby Your Home?