The sounds of birds and the buzzing of insects in springtime is a reminder for me that our homestead supports more than just our own sustenance. Here are some tips on making sure your garden offers an open invitation for birds.

Give Them Water. Birds need a place to stop for a drink or a bath. We were gifted a heavy, old, concrete bird bath that I keep filled year round. It is a common occurrence to sip tea on the patio while watching a major pool party happen in the bird bath.

Reclaimed items can be transformed into great bird baths. Large stones with a depression in the middle will naturally pool water. The large ceramic saucers used under pots can be placed in the garden to make shallow pools. Start keeping your eyes peeled for reclaimed materials and you’ll be surprised how easy it is to find something that works.

Give Them Food. Plant native trees and shrubs that give birds food, especially during the winter months. Birds will munch on ornamentals, but they will not be as nutrient-rich for native birds as native plants will be. A wide range of options will offer something for a wide range species. In the Pacific NW, good options include Snowberry, Indian Plum, Nootka Rose, Oceanspray, Oregon Grape, and Huckleberry.

A messy yard can be a great place for birds! Allow fall leaves to stay in the garden. It will encourage insects and some bird species to feed there. A small pile of twigs and pruned branches in the garden will also be a good spot to find birds picking out nesting material.

Give Them Shelter. Some bird species prefer to nest in hollow trees, which can be hard to find in urban areas. Instead, construct a simply nesting box to replicate the hollow tree environment. Plant native trees that can grow in an open area, allowing their branches to spread out horizontally. This creates little hollows for birds to tuck nests into.

Provide some good hiding places. There are lots of hungry cats in the city, among other predators. Incorporating some evergreens will give birds a safe place to run and hide in if they are threatened.

I was surprised at how quickly our urban plot turned into a home for wildlife. A bird bath here, some evergreen shade there and a few berry-producing plants was apparently all they needed to come in droves. We don’t mind sharing some of the fruits of our labor in exchange for the cheerful company. Who is inviting themselves into your garden this spring?

REMINDER: Don’t forget to leave a comment about your homesteading journey on my anniversary post earlier this week! I am giving away a copy of my book Modern Homestead to one lucky winner. I will announce the winner next week!

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Written by Renee Wilkinson