Birds are an important addition to the backyard food forest. Although they will steal some of my berries and fruit, they give something back with their guano, insect-eating, and simple beauty. If the competition for my produce gets too severe I will cover the berry bushes with some netting. I am willing to take that risk though in order to give these guys some habitat. As a city-dweller I understand that my house used to be their forest. We all need to live in peace together.

The first step to making my backyard attractive to birds starts with the plantings. There are plenty of worms in the soil alone, but the berry bushes and fruit trees lure them in as well. Shade and shelter are also in abundance from the growing food forest. The spiders and beetles that crawl through the branches provide a tasty snack, as does the nectar from blooming trees and shrubs. I found a lovely blown glass hummingbird feeder a few weeks back – hopefully that will catch on and we will see the little buzzing birds zipping through.

To take the housing situation one step further, I put out a little bird nesting box my grandfather built for me a few years ago. We may not have any residents this year, but I am hopeful a bird family will move in some Spring down the road. Jay likes to take the lint from our dryer outside in the Spring for local birds to use in their nests as well. Just another way to entice them into our yard. I should point out that our fat cat isn’t much of a hunter, so there are no predators lurking in our backyard.

You need to make sure there is a water source somewhere nearby to really give birds everything they need to make a home. My friend Denise was generous enough to give me an old birdbath she didn’t need. (Thank you, thank you, thank you Denise!) It was heavy, but we moved it into place last weekend under our goldenchain tree. It looks like it has been there for ages. The best part is that I can see it from our kitchen – I can’t wait to watch the little birds play right from my kitchen window.

We are not very knowledgeable bird-watchers, but we have seen several small, brightly colored feathered-friends hopping around outside in the past month or so. And it is such a treat to wake up to the soft clucking of hens with wild birds chirping away in the background. Come in birds – we’re ready for you!

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Written by Renee Wilkinson