Your Yard as Bird Feeder

Offering a wide range of native plant foods from the natural habitat in your yard is the best option for bird nutrition, but bird feeders are nonetheless helpful in the winter.

In an excellent article by Karen Bussolini (For the Birds), she quotes entomologist Doug Tallamy: “We have modified habitats so much in suburbs and urban environments that there’s not enough food. The sterile manicured suburban setting–with 46.5 million acres of lawn–is not conducive to bird survival unless we put out feeders. We need more plants in whole neighborhoods.”

Content to forage on grain, fruit, sap, nuts, seeds, and insects, the non-migrating northern cardinal is a joyful presence in the winter garden. Photo credit: Travis Bonovsky.

Bird feeders located by windows for the pleasure of humans can be deadly for birds. Be sure to think of birds when placing feeders in your yard. Are you providing cover from predators (e.g., prowling cats) for ground feeding birds? Is there risk of collision from the deception and confusion of windows? Special decals can help birds see windows. The Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology offers some good tips helping winter birds in your yard.

And when spring arrives and it’s time to ponder how to create a “living landscape” for birds that visit your yard, take a peek at this tool provided by Audubon. Audubon’s extensive native plant database will provide a list of the best vegetation to create habitat for birds simply by entering your zip code.

“Different berries have different nutritional content profiles. The amount of sugar, fat (lipids) and fiber contained in a berry vary by plant species. Some berry-producing shrubs fruit earlier in the season, some later, while still others persist deeper into the winter months when food is especially scarce”–like these winterberries. Source: Winter Berries for Winter Birds.




Do heated birdbaths pose a danger to birds? Perhaps.  Read more here.

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