Creating a bird-friendly backyard is an easy way to enjoy birds daily and hone your bird ID skills. Attract a variety of birds to your yard by offering the four fundamentals birds need: food, water, shelter, and a place to nest. Regardless of the size or whether you live in urban or rural areas you can attract birds to your yard. Below is information about creating a bird-friendly backyard, so you can enjoy birds year-round.
Bird feeders are an excellent way to attract birds to your backyard. Selecting the type of feeder and seed may depend on the type of birds you would like to attract to your yard. Black oil sunflower seed is enjoyed by many birds, other seed eaten by birds can include safflower, millet, and nyjer. Cleaning feeders regularly is key to keeping birds safe and coming back to your yard.
Platform or Tray Feeders
Platform feeders attract most of the common backyard birds including Northern Cardinals and Blue Jays. Often there is no cover on platform feeders, so seed may need to be regularly replaced if rain or snow occurs.
These feeders typically are the shape of a house and attract a wide variety of birds like the platform feeders. This style of feeder has a roof and sides, which protects the seed from the weather elements better than other feeders.
This style of feeder typically attracts smaller birds like finches and chickadees. Some tube feeders are designed specifically for thistle or nyjer seed to attract a variety of finches and Pine Siskins.
These feeders are typically inexpensive, small cage-like feeders that hold blocks of suet, which is a fat-rich food that may contain seed or ground nuts. Woodpeckers and nuthatches enjoy this calorie-rich food.
In eastern Nebraska hummingbird feeders can attract the Ruby-throated hummingbird from late April to mid-October. In western Nebraska a variety of hummingbird species may stop to fuel up at your feeder during spring and fall migration.
Create nectar by boiling 4 parts water and 1 part refined white sugar and letting it cool to room temperature before filling the empty, clean feeder. Do not add dye or extra sugar to the water. Refrigerate any leftover nectar.
Clean feeders regularly especially when temperatures are hot. Soak and clean feeders in hot tap water or 1-part vinegar to nine parts water and then let it fully air dry. Avoid using dish soaps, as these can leave harmful residues in the feeder.
Oriole feeders are typically bright orange and can hold orange slices, jelly, and nectar. Place these feeders in your yard in late Spring and again in late summer to attract Baltimore and Orchard Orioles to your yard and Bullock’s Orioles if you live in the panhandle.
You can make the nectar yourself with 6 parts water and 1 part granulated white sugar boiled and cooled. Do not add dye or extra sugar to the water. Be sure to replace and clean feeders regularly especially when temperatures are hot.
Adding a birdhouse to your yard is a great way to attract cavity-nesting birds like bluebirds, wrens, and even raptors like the American Kestrel. You can build your own houses using the plans linked below, or you can buy premade houses. Birdhouses provide an enjoyable opportunity to watch the progression of breeding behavior from courtship displays, to bringing a beak full of food to the nest, to watching the fledglings leave the nest.
Before you begin, think about the birds preferred habitat and if your yard is suitable for their needs. For instance, a small wooded lot is not an optimal location for a bluebird nest box, but it is an excellent location for a House Wren nest box. At the end of the nesting season you can remove an old nest from the nest box to encourage use again next year.
Considering building your own nest box?
Check out the features of a good birdhouse and the links to building plans for a variety of birds below.