13 August 2010

Attracting Birds to Your Garden

When I worked at the garden center we'd often have customers asking what they can do to attract birds to their yard.  I've noticed an increase in visitors in my own garden over the past few years, in part due to growth of trees and in part due to water features I've added (or have been added thanks to my children).  Of course, setting out feeders, birdhouses and bird baths will draw them too.  There are three basics to keep in mind when wanting to attract birds.  They are food, shelter and water.

Think about the kind of bird you want to attract.  If you like cedar waxwings, plant mountain ash trees.  They are known to come by in winter in flocks, descend upon the mountain ash and devour the berries.  I saw this happen in my own yard just a couple years ago.  It is quite a site!  The following spring we had a pair that seemed to stick around and would visit the pond and trees.
Cedar waxwing in European Mountain Ash tree

If you want to attract chickadees, or sparrows or most other birds, plant trees.  Trees with strong limbs will encourage nesting behaviour.  Although, two years in a row, we had a pair of robins who nested in the supports for our deck.  Sadly a raven discovered the nest and such an upset that was.  The pair moved on to what is hopefully a more secure site.

If you want to attract hummingbirds select flowering plants with tubular shaped blossoms.  One year I had a large hanging petunia planter on our front porch and as I sat there in the cool of the afternoon shade, a hummingbird visited the petunias.  I sat very still, incredibly surprised that they like petunias!  Other flowers to attract hummingbirds include:  azalea and rhododendron, hollyhock, bee balm, fuschia, red columbine, butterfly bush and trumpet vine.  If you have had success attracting hummingbirds with other plants, please comment and let me know.  We do know hummingbirds are attracted to red, thus hummingbird feeders are red or the liquid in the feeder is red.

For more ideas on planting for hummingbirds check this site: 

Blue jays like spruce trees; robins, cedar waxwings and bluebirds like cedars; chickadees and robins like white pine and crab apple; grosbeak and purple finch like maples.  More reason to plant trees in the garden.  Got to love it!   

"If you build it (or plant it), they will come"

For more information and a recipe for syrup for a hummingbird feeder, check my previous post for an excellent article by Canadian Living.


Shirley said...

Sorry, I don't know why, but I couldn't get my font to be the same size in this posting. Anyone else have that problem?

Jennifer said...

I find that if you copy and paste your text from word strange things can happen. Not that I am an expert, but I think it is because webpages get confused by "hidden" Microsoft word formatting. Hope this helps.
I love birds and try to attract as many as possible. Blue jays and woodpeckers are my favorites.

Shirley said...

Jennifer, thanks I have noticed that too however I didn't copy and paste for this posting. So, I am at a loss.

Shirley said...


Excellent shots of cedar waxwings.


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