Garden Tip: Make your yard bird friendly

Birds consume primarily insects, especially when they are nesting. |  Submitted
Birds consume primarily insects, especially when they are nesting. | Submitted

Attracting birds to your yard means not only enjoying their pretty feathers and musical songs but also their pest control abilities.

Birds consume primarily insects, especially when they are nesting. Why not invite these tiny predators to your gardens? Birds require food, water, shelter and nesting sites.

There are many ways to feed birds, but to create a lasting refuge, try to create a landscape that feeds them year round. Each species of bird has its own specific needs, but in general include plants that flower and attract insects. Birds also enjoy fruits, seeds, berries and cones.

The more diverse types of food you provide, the more species of birds you will attract. Also, think about having plants that flower and form seeds or fruits at different times of the year.

For example, coneflower sets seeds in late summer and is beloved by goldfinches. If you leave the flowers to set seed, finches will seek them out. The new cultivars of crabapples have small, hard berries that persist through winter to feed birds in early spring when there are few options.

Birdbaths are a popular way to encourage birds to visit your garden. Birds love clean, fresh water, so we recommend checking your birdbath daily and emptying if not every day, every few days to discourage mosquito larvae. Make sure to clean them on a regular basis to prevent disease and pests. Use a 10 percent bleach solution to kill any pests or diseases. Consider adding a fountain, bubbler or pump that moves water. Many birds enjoy running water.

Offering hiding places and nesting sites will encourage birds to make your yard home. Many birds nest between 5 and 8 feet above the ground. Consider adding dense shrubs, evergreens and trees for birds to hide and build nests. A mix of open areas and denser plantings creates habitat for a large range of species.

Leave some leaves and brush for those birds that hunt for insects hiding in the detritus.

Garden Tip is courtesy of The Growing Place, 630-355-4000.

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