illustration of three birds sitting on a bird feeder

5 Compelling Ways to Attract More Birds to Your Yard

One of the joys of summer is relaxing outside and taking in the sights and sounds of songbirds. But birds, like people, prefer some locations over others.

The good news is that there are many ways to tell them, “Come here!” In time, you’ll find dozens of birds flocking to your yard—and ignoring your neighbors!

Summer is an ideal time to make your yard more-bird friendly. Plus, your efforts will pay big dividends throughout the seasons! Here are the best ways to put out a welcome mat for your local bird community.

1. Grow bird-friendly plants.

When selecting trees, shrubs, and perennials for your yard, choose an assortment of plants to provide both food and shelter. Ideally, that means berries, nuts, and seeds that will appeal to different bird species.

Native plants are often preferable because they are well adapted to the local environment, and native birds easily recognize them as prime food sources.

If you provide your zip code and an email address, the National Audubon Society will send a list of the best native plants for attracting local birds. It’s also easy to collect ideas by searching for “native plants for birds in [location].”

If you also want to enjoy hummingbirds in your yard, include some of their favorite flowers. For example, columbines, bee balm, butterfly bush, and trumpet vine can supply the nectar hummingbirds need from spring through late summer.

Butterflies, bees, and other beneficial pollinators will also be drawn to the flowers that hummingbirds love.

2. Create shelter.

Shrubs and trees also provide valuable sources of shelter in all seasons, especially if they’re relatively dense. But, again, variety is essential since different birds prefer different heights.

If you have a dead tree, consider letting it stand since cavity-dwelling birds may be able to use it as a nest to raise their young. Also, dead trees can provide a valuable food source for insect-eating birds.

You may also want to put out nesting boxes, but be sure they have holes for air ventilation and water drainage. See these tips from the National Wildlife Federation for more advice on nesting boxes that will appeal to different bird species.

3. Provide water.

Usually, a simple birdbath on a pedestal is the easiest way to give birds a water source. Position it in a location where you can enjoy seeing your visitors. But also make sure it's at least 10 feet from dense vegetation so birds will feel safe from predators.

In the summer, change the water every couple of days to stay fresh. If your birdbath is in a sunny location, consider adding a small solar-power fountain. The splashing water will attract more birds!

Likewise, if your birdbath is located under a tree, you may want to position a narrow hose on a low branch so water droplets can fall into the bath intermittently. Just be sure to turn the hose off at night, so you don’t use more water than needed and drive up your water bill.

Consider adding a small heater in the winter, so the water doesn’t freeze. Birds need water year-round!

4. Install bird feeders.

Perhaps the best way to see more birds in your yard is to offer them an abundance of easily accessible treats! But different birds eat different things.

For example, cardinals, blue jays, and chickadees love black oil sunflowers seeds, but finches and nuthatches prefer smaller seeds like thistle and millet.

Suet cakes will appeal to woodpeckers, wrens, chickadees, nuthatches, and titmice. However, avoid feeding with suet during hot spells since the oil can turn rancid.

Hummingbird feeders filled with sugar water provide a valuable supplemental food source for hardworking hummingbirds. And it’s easy to make your nectar!

5. Avoid pesticides and herbicides.

It’s always advisable to limit your use of polluting lawn chemicals. However, it’s essential to back away from pesticides and herbicides if you’re trying to attract birds since many species eat insects and seeds on your plants and in your grass.

Plus, inviting more birds into your yard provides natural pest and weed control. You may find that your new feathered friends improve your yard’s ecosystem while also providing bird-watching entertainment throughout the seasons!