1. Maintain a four-season habitat. Once you attract birds, don’t stop there. Make your yard a neighborhood hub by providing food, shelter and water year-round, even when the weather is warm.
2. Create a comfort zone. Birds like cover, especially near feeders, so plant evergreen trees, bushes, vines or ground covers nearby.
3. Leave a little garden debris in winter. Instead of doing a thorough cleanup in the fall, let the birds enjoy the seedpods, leaf piles, dropped fruit and other natural materials that usually get cleared away weeks earlier.
4. Choose garden plants that make a hearty meal. Seed- and berry-bearing plants will attract hungry birds to your yard. Select plants that peak at different times of year for a long-lasting backyard buffet.
5. Supplement nature’s bounty with a variety of foods. Feeders full of seeds, suet and fruit will delight your winged guests. Also, consider hanging different styles of feeders around your garden to boost the appeal.
6. Go nuts! Chickadees, nuthatches, brown creepers and woodpeckers all love peanut pieces. Mix them with seed, or hang a special peanut feeder to attract extra attention. Peanuts in the shell are favorites of blue jays. Watch for fussy jays to pick up several peanuts before choosing just the right one.
7. Add water to your landscape. A clean bird is a comfy bird. If your area experiences winter freezes, switch to an electric or solar heater to warm up your birdbath so birds can stay tidy and have a drink on icy days.
8. Garden green. Once you commit to attracting birds to your backyard, take an eco-friendly approach to garden care by avoiding toxic chemicals. Choose products that are safe for the creatures you’ll host.
9. Keep track of your visitors. By observing their comings and goings over the seasons, you’ll know what birds to expect and when. You’ll also learn about the habits of each of the visiting species. Go one step further by joining a program such as Project FeederWatch, where you’ll report your sightings to ornithologists who record bird trends across North America.
10. Get your neighbors involved. Expand birds’ local habitat by inviting your neighbors to participate. With additional space, perches and food available, you’re sure to welcome more birds to your area.