The Plant Layout for Attracting Birds for bird watching

The spacing between trees and shrubs, the preferred combination of open areas and adjoining thick cover, and the degree of seclusion and protection from the wind are all important factors when designing for birds. If possible, even open spaces should be well protected from wind and street noise to appeal to birds.

Increase the variety and numbers of plants attractive to birds in your landscape and you are virtually guaranteed more birds that stay longer. Create a layered and multi-tiered garden, increase the amount of edge between wooded areas and open areas, and provide a rich understory.
Edges between habitats are prime opportunities to offer a dense and diverse assortment of bird-attracting plants. Where woods meet open lawn is a good spot for a mixed border of shrubs and small trees. This will increase bird species diversity in your yard.

Think in layers in the landscape to attract birds. Provide several layers for different kinds of birds by planting clusters of shade-loving small trees, shrubs, and ground covers under taller trees. Look at natural woodlands around you to get ideas for plant combinations.

Many bird species appreciate edge habitat, such as hummingbirds, phoebes, titmice, and orioles. They utilize the open flying space of driveways, lawns, and other corridors, which allow them easy access to the lush plants along the borders. In all birdscapes, a diversity of plants provides the greatest benefit. Berries and seeds will ripen at different times of the year, a range of nesting materials and nest sites will be available, and a greater variety of insects will be found on the plants.

Keep in mind that a natural woodland is generally free from human traffic, which can disturb the often shy birds of the forest. Let fallen leaves lie instead of raking them away. They will settle into a bed of mulch that adds richness to the soil as well as creating insect-rich areas for ground-foraging birds. Include about half evergreen and half deciduous plants in your woodland.

This may be difficult for the tidy gardener, but try to maintain a brush pile in an out-of-the way spot to attract sparrows, towhees, and other birds. Carefully preserve dead trees. Large dead branches, standing dead trees, fallen trees, and stumps are excellent bird attractors, thanks to the insects and larvae that burrow into their wood. They also provide nesting sites for nuthatches, woodpeckers, chickadees, and other cavity-nesting birds.

Sunny landscape with areas of lawn broken up by shrubs, flowers, and fruiting trees are most likely to attract birds of a neighboring open country, for example the California Quail, Mockingbird, American Goldfinch, and Song Sparrow. Plant vines on trellises, fences, and arbors. American Robins and Mourning Doves may nest there, and the tubular flowers of vines attract hummingbirds.

Leave hedges unclipped, or prune them naturally by selective branch removal rather than shearing. Restrict pruning to late winter, after any loose fruit has been eaten and before birds begin nesting in early spring.

Hummingbirds have two major sources of food: flower nectar and the protein from small insects and spiders. In the wild these birds prefer meadows, lowland forest edges, and woodland openings, although some species also frequent deserts. The most important thing you can do to attract these birds is to plant vines or other tubular-flowered plants, especially in bright red, pink, and orange. Hummingbirds can be territorial about food sources, so it is best to include red flowers in several locations.

Protect your birds from domestic cats. No matter how well-fed your cat is, it plans havoc with new fledglings and their parents. It is unfair to attract birds to your yard if you have cats on the prowl.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

les perelli May 16, 2010 at 8:30 pm

my neighbors cats are killing my birds.what can i grow to keep them away? les

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lars May 17, 2010 at 9:09 am

@Les

Here are some products to consider.

http://www.cleanairgardening.com/cat-control.html

This is another good product, if they are going through your flowerbeds and shrubs.
http://www.gardeners.com/Safe-Cat-Deterrent/YardPests_DogsCats,31-954,default,cp.html

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