I simply adore the birds that visit my garden. Here one moment and gone the next, their fleeting presence and sweet, sweet songs never fail to cause my heart to skip a beat.
And the entertainment they’ve provided over the years has been priceless, adding so much joy to our lives.
Recently, someone was seeing my garden for the first time and wanted to know why I had so many birds when they had so few – what was my secret?
There’s no secret, of course, but while I showed her around my garden I noticed just how many ways I make it enticing for them to visit (besides, of course, providing plenty of plants for shelter and food.)
So today, I thought I would share some of them with you. If you incorporate even a few of these elements, you’ll be amazed at who shows up to visit your garden!
While it seems many birds in my garden prefer to make their nests in the most unusual places (click here for my favorite hiding spot of all!) it still doesn’t stop me from collecting birdhouses.
Hands-down, my two favorite birdhouses are gifts from my good friend Freeland Tanner, who painstakingly made them by hand.
The oversized blue birdhouse sits in the far corner of my garden, its stately presence visible from inside my home (never failing to warm my heart.)
The smaller red one is tucked into a shady area where its color echoes the shades in my nearby office.
Birdhouses don’t have to cost a fortune, either, with many of mine found at flea markets and garage sales. Tucked here and there I often forget they’re there until a little bird flies out and startles me as I walk by.
Provide the water, and they will come!
I have larger basins for bigger birds (or flocks of waxwings!) and shallow bowls for smaller ones.
I also place a few larger rocks in the bottom of the baths, partially sticking out of the water, so the birds have something to stand on. They seem to appreciate this as they’re often fighting to get a turn standing on the rock.
I’m always amazed at how many types of birds use the birdbaths, not seeming to mind having to share their space with others.
In addition to plants, I always provide a bird feeder for additional sources of food – especially in the winter months when food is scarce.
Which seed you provide will determine which birds will be attracted to it. I use a feeder with a basic birdseed mix to attract the more common birds (such as sparrows, doves, and chickadees) and one filled with nyjer seed to attract the beautiful goldfinches.
Remember, though, once you begin feeding them they will start to rely on you as a food source. If you want them to migrate to warmer climates in the fall, you’ll need to stop filling your bird feeders in September. Otherwise, if you want them year-round you’ll need to commit to feeding them through the winter months. Please don’t up and quit on them mid-winter after their chance of flying to warmer climates has passed!
Ever since I’ve lived here, I’ve loved the giant birch tree that was a beacon for the birds. Its branches were perfectly positioned to hold my bird feeders, and the tree was strategically placed directly in front of my bedroom window so I could watch the birds first thing in the morning. And even in the winter, the little goldfinches loved to hang on the dried seed heads and snack to their heart’s content.
This past year, however, my poor old tree died (as did so many in my area, thanks to year after year of drought) and we had to remove it.
I was so sad to lose this tree, not only because it was so stunning but because it was such a favorite with the birds.
My husband and I went to the Los Gatos Birdwatcher to see what options (if any) there were to try and fix the situation. While they had a system that would support a few bird feeders, it just wasn’t tall enough. But we did buy three swinging arms from them, to attach to a tall, sturdy steel pole that we securely placed in a hole drilled in the tree trunk.
I’d have to say one of the most popular bird feeders in my garden is my canary and finch aviary.
Last year there was so much activity in my garden, a local hawk stayed for a few days to see what was going on.
His favorite place to perch was on the trunk of my old grape vine, next to my aviary.
Now, on to a fantastic offer from the people with the Sunset Western Plant Collection.
If you live anywhere on the West Coast (from Colorado to Hawaii), you won’t want to miss this generous plant giveaway!
But hurry – it ends this Sunday, March 12th. Just click here to follow the instructions and best of luck to all of you!