Wildlife Gardens

Creating a wildlife garden allows you take part in your larger surrounding environment.  Often gardens are completely shut out from the natural spaces surrounding it and aren’t welcoming to birds and other wildlife.  Adding a few key shrubs or trees can make all the difference when trying to attract birds to your garden.

Map out and observe our surroundings to see what natural habitats are close by.  Are there any ponds, rivers, streams?  Are parks, golf courses or nature reserves nearby?  Remember your garden is part of the larger surrounding environment.  Knowing what the local ecosystems are will better enable you to plan your garden.  

In order to attract birds, gardens must provide food, water, shelter and nesting areas. Provide for different bird species by making available a variety of seed and berry producing trees and shrubs, such as Washington hawthorn, mountain ash and viburnum. Flowers such as hollyhock, nasturtium, and sunflowers produce seed which attract birds as well.

Providing Food Year-Round

Also, be sure to provide food throughout the year.  For example, in the spring have a few different berry producing shrubs available, such as blueberries and raspberries.  In the summer, perennials provide seed and in the fall trees such as dogwood and serviceberry bear fruit which birds will seek out.  Birds which over winter in your area will need sustenance provided by winterberry and other fruit bearing shrubs.

Different birds need different environments in which to eat and live.  Robins, for example, eat at ground level where they forage for insects and worms while many other birds prefer to be off the ground a bit in the midst of a perennials garden.  Some birds prefer the height of shrubs and others still like to be in the canopy of taller trees.  Plants, while providing food, also supply birds with shelter.  Evergreens and other dense shrubs provide nesting areas and protection from the cold of winter and create shade in the heat of the summer. 

Along with food, birds require water for both drinking and bathing.  If there aren’t any natural water sources near your garden, be sure to place a birdbath or water dish in the area.  Keep the water fresh by filling it daily.  In the winter when the water freezes knock out the ice and replace with fresh water.  By investing in a heated bird bath or by adding a bird bath heater to your existing bird bath, you’ll be providing the greatest resource birds need in order to survive.  Most home and garden stores that stock birdbath sell them.  If you are considering using one of these consult an electrician to help with the installation. Consider planning a water garden, birds are attracted to the sound of running water.

If you’re contemplating using a bird feeder, maintain it and be sure to keep it stocked as birds often come to depend on these feeders, especially during the lean, harsh months of winter.  Since birds are attracted to a variety of different foods, supply them with seeds, berries, fats, breads and nuts.  Avoid salty foods.  Using a birdhouse for your seed provides shelter as well as a place for food. 

Creating a garden which attracts birds has positive effect on the environment; you’re providing a new habitat for birds and well as beneficial insects and other wildlife.  While birds will thrive and will benefit the most from your efforts you’re also providing years of enjoyment for both yourself and visitors to your garden.