Managing a backyard bird habitat

Clean and refreshed bird baths are used as a source of drinking and bathing water. Valley News/Adobe Stock photo

For many nature enthusiasts, there’s nothing more rewarding than seeing wildlife right in their own backyard. Providing several different types of foods can be the first step to welcoming a variety of birds to one’s yard.

Bill Askenburg, a backyard birding enthusiast and maker of custom birdhouses, says he offers thistle seed to attract finches and chickadees. A nut and berry mix is set out for woodpeckers and a sunflower/safflower mix attracts cardinals, wrens, doves and blue jays.

A few different feeders placed at various heights or hung from branches on a property can attract an abundance of wildlife.

Feeding birds is one way to enjoy their company. Offering other features can increase the chances that birds will nest and raise young in a backyard habitat.

Following are some ways to attract the types of feathered friends that will find local yards habitable.

Keeping abandoned nests from previous seasons can result in birds reoccupying them or taking them apart for nesting material. Valley News/Adobe Stock photo

• A hands-off approach may work best. It’s easy to want to remove felled trees, tall grasses or old brush from the yard. However, these items could be the very spots certain birds deem worthy for their nests. The same can be said for abandoned nests from last season. Leave them in place and they may be reoccupied by other birds or taken apart for nesting material.

• Tall trees will attract a number of birds that prefer nests in the high branches, such as jays and mourning doves.

• Think about placing nesting boxes around the yard. This will attract birds that prefer the protected cavities of small hollows for their nests. The boxes will compensate for lost habitats where these birds would normally nest.

• Water fountains and birdbaths that are frequently refreshed with clean water provide drinking and bathing opportunities for birds. Birds are hard-pressed to resist the gentle trickle of water.

• Enhance a backyard habitat by choosing both native and ornamental plantings that provide seeds or berries for the birds one wishes to attract. These natural options can be used in conjunction with packaged seeds and berries as other food sources.

Having a variety of food sources, nesting opportunities and hiding spots available will help ensure the greatest chance for wildlife taking up residence in one’s yard.

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