Attract More Birds This Year with 5 New Year’s Resolutions for Bird Lovers
1. Resolve to keep your yard pesticide-free
If you do nothing else for wild birds, at least try to do this. Some pesticides are not only harmful when ingested by birds, but they also kill off the insects and bugs that birds eat. Research natural ways to control weeds on walks or harmful insects in the garden. Picking harmful bugs from vegetable plants and flowers often works fine, and there are non-toxic sprays that can be used. And there are many natural weed killers, such as a salt and vinegar solution, boiling water, laying newspapers over them or using a propane weed torch.
2. Resolve to provide birds with native plantings
Native plants, trees and shrubs grow better in your yard than non-native plants and also provide food and shelter for birds. Choose varieties that bear seeds, fruits, berries or nuts. Non-native plants may bear berries or fruits, but often they are not the kinds of foods that your local birds are used to, or will eat. Also consider leaving a section of your yard wild. Birds thrive on the seeds of wildflowers and grasses in fall and winter. Your local nursery will be able to give you expert advice on which native plants will grow best in your area and be most beneficial to the birds.
3. Resolve to keep your feeders and birdbaths clean
A natural place to congregate, feeders and baths are places where close contact, droppings and contaminated food can spread many types of avian diseases. And mold can develop in feeders, causing respiratory problems in birds. Clean feeders and baths regularly, whenever they appear to need it. It’s nice to have a schedule, but sometimes the best way to tell when a feeder and bath need cleaning is by observation. Have a spare, clean feeder on hand to swap in when you need to clean the one in use.
4. Resolve to provide a variety of foods to nourish a variety of birds
Feeding black oil sunflower seeds is a great start and most birds like this seed. But suet is a great addition. All seed-eating birds, with the exception of goldfinches, will like suet and it’s a very good food for birds to take back to their nestlings. And insect-eating birds such as mockingbirds, bluebirds and catbirds will come to suet feeders. Also try mixes. Mixes containing millet, peanut bits and cracked corn appeal to doves, juncos, sparrows, buntings and other birds. Fruits such as orange halves, apple halves, even pieces of banana can also be offered. Seed-eating and insect-eating birds all love mealworms, either dried or live. A variety of foods attracts a larger variety of birds!
5. Resolve to share your love of birds with a neighbor, family member or child
Sharing your interest in feeding and sheltering our wild birds could start a friend or child on a hobby that may last a lifetime. And it may give you a chance to trade stories and ideas on the best ways to help the birds. It’s true that as birds’ habitats decrease and become more and more fragmented, many species are having a difficult time finding nesting spots and adequate food sources. Anything we can do to help wild birds goes a long way toward ensuring their futures. So… spread the word!