“Bird watching is fun,” said Rhiannon Crane, project leader with the Yardmap Project at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. (Visit yardmap.org for more information about building a bird habitat in your backyard.)
“By providing birds with the right habitat, you can increase your enjoyment by attracting between 20 to 30 species of birds — that amount is doable in an urban or rural setting. More diversity equals more fun,” Crain said.
Additionally, birds are good for your yard and provide an alternative to chemicals for keeping the insect population in check, Crane said.
Like all animals, birds need water, food and structure, which means a safe place to eat, sleep and nest, be pro- tected from the elements and elude predators.
For the water element, “it’s as easy as putting a saucer of water in the yard,” Crane said. Adding a dripping feature or running water is even more attractive to birds.
For a lasting effect that will allow birds to stay over winter months, add a bird feeder to your yard, Crane said. A basic seed mix is a good start, but specialized foods will attract a wider range of species.
Since baby birds don’t eat seeds, Crane suggests planting native shrubs and trees for birds to forage from. These will also attract caterpillars, which the babies can eat.
Consider letting a corner of your yard go wild by creating a brush pile with clippings, branches and twigs as many birds prefer habitat on the ground.
Evergreens also provide natural cover year-round and attract migrating birds.
“You can do a little or a lot,” Crane said. “It’s not difficult to attract birds to your yard.”
Easy DIY bird feeder
There are plenty of eco-friendly bird feeders are available for sale, but how about trying to make your own? It’s easy using just a milk jug and common household tools:
- Thoroughly wash an empty 1-gallon plastic milk jug. Replace the cap.
- Cut two large holes about 4 inches in diameter in the two adjacent sides of the jug opposite the handle. The holes should be about 2 inches up from the bottom of the jug.
- Cut a hole below each of the large holes and insert a twig or dowel rod through diagonally as a perch.
- With a large nail, punch two holes in the neck of the milk jug, about 1 inch below the cap.
- Run a 2-foot-long piece of wire through the holes, twisting the wire tightly above the cap with several turns.
- To camouflage, brush on green acrylic paint and attach leaves to the outside with clear glue. Add twigs to the top to create a roof. Cover the entire project with clear non-toxic craft glaze so it’s water-resistant.
- Fill the feeder with birdseed and use the wire ends to hang it from a strong branch or other support.