How to Create a Bird-Friendly Garden

My black lab Charlie has a lovely little morning ritual: she heads out into the garden as early as possible, does her morning business, & then she finds a place to perch where she can watch the birds do their morning business!  And this business includes singing, drinking from our fountains, eating bird seed, & generally frolicking & chattering with one another.  This absolutely fascinates her.  Aside from keeping your dog entertained, there are many benefits of bringing birds into your yard.  Here, I’ll examine “How to Create a Bird-Friendly Garden,” & several reasons to do so….

How to Create a Bird-Friendly Garden, Girl Who Gardens

Two things in this photo most draw the birds to my garden: the tall pink crabapple tree on the right, & the small running fountain in front of it…

Get Your Garden Ready for the Birds…

Tiered Fountain

Garden Book

Garden Arbor

Top Attractions for Birds in the Garden

  •  Birds will typically be most drawn to anything tall in your garden, which could include: tall arbors, taller trees such as crabapples, aspens, Crepe Myrtles ~ basically, anything with strong limbs they can perch on. The tall vantage point not only gives them a defensive spot to survey the scene from, but it potentially gives them areas to create nests. 
  • Running water.  Originally, I purchased three turquoise bird baths from Amazon, & placed them throughout the garden. I thought surely this would attract the birds, & add a nice French country feel to the yard. But what I soon discovered was: unless I was refilling the baths daily ~ the birds just weren’t interested. What they were interested in instead was the running water from this three-tiered fountain. The birds bathe in here, drink from here, & fritter up to the nearby crabapple tree from here. I originally bought the fountain not for the birds, but to drown out my neighbors’ voices (which worked wonderfully, btw).  But it brought the added benefit of attracting far more birds to the garden, & increasing their lovely morning chatter. 
  • Birds are attracted to gardens that have greater biodiversity, aka lots of different varieties of plants.  Garden styles such as the flower-loving English cottage garden is a perfect example of yards birds will love. Why?  Because more flowers mean more opportunities to feast on the sap & nectar provided, which in turn will help pollinate your garden. 
  • The most straightforward way to attract more birds to your yard is to give them wild bird seed.  I use my bird baths now, not for water: but instead, I fill them with bird seed. And oh boy….this brings in the birds! They wait on my fence & take turns coming over for a feeding. If you choose to do this, make sure to place your bird feeder a reasonable distance from the house, so you won’t have to clean up too many bird droppings.

How to Create a Bird-Friendly Garden, Girl Who Gardens

This three-tiered Ravenna fountain is oh-so-popular with the birds. They like running water far more than stagnant water in the bird baths (smart birds).

How to Create a Beautiful Cottage Garden, Girl Who Travels the World

This beautiful English cottage garden is a perfect example of a yard that will attract the birds: from the stone fountain, to the great diversity of flowers, & tall trees in the background that provide shade, cover, & nesting opportunities. Photo by Homes & Gardens.

How to Create a Bird-Friendly Garden Sanctuary, Girl Who Gardens

Planting a wide diversity of flowers, shrubs, & trees in your garden is a sure-fire bird attractor.

Benefits of Having Birds in the Garden

  •  One of the top benefits of having birds in your garden is: certain species offer natural pest control.  Insects such as mosquitoes, spiders, beetles, moths, & small aphids are all fodder & potential food for birds.  Additionally, larger birds such as hawks, owls, eagles, & falcons will hunt down mice & rats ~ which are a notoriously difficult pest to get rid of (especially in colder climates).  While these aren’t the most likely birds to be found in your garden, you may find 
  • Birds such as hummingbirds, orioles, & numerous other species are highly effective garden pollinators, as they enjoy sipping the nectar of your garden flowers & fruit trees.  And why is pollination important?  Quite simply: it helps your flowers & trees reproduce ~ which is especially important if you’re trying to grow food.  By assisting with pollination, birds can help crops be more bountiful.
  • Birds can help eat & control certain weeds.  In particular, finches & sparrows are great lovers of weed seeds: so if these particular birds are drawn to your garden, they may save you hours of weeding time, & reduce your need for chemical weed interventions. 
  • By attracting birds to your garden & providing them places to nest & rest, you’re doing your part in terms of wildlife conservation.  As more & more natural space is developed, birds & other wildlife are rapidly losing their habitats.  By creating a little garden oasis for your local birds, you’re helping preserve their species.
  • And finally, what I personally enjoy most about having birds in the garden is that they’re a natural stress reliever!  Their bird song & natural chatter is an amazing backdrop for a beautiful garden space.  Watching them play in the fountain, frolic from tree to tree, or even simply observing to see which flowers are their favorite ~ can all be a source of entertainment & education for your family, & even for your dogs!  With birds in the garden, I feel a sense of connection to the natural world, & I find that mine actually draw me out to the garden in the morning.

And from the work of neuroscientist Andrew Huberman, it’s amazing how vital it is for so many of our body’s systems to get outside first thing in the morning; for our eyes to view sunlight, & to get at least a few minutes of Vitamin D.  This simple act helps set our circadian rhythms, lets us fall asleep more easily at night, & can even affect the production of hormones such as estrogen & testosterone.

How to Create a Bird-Friendly Backyard Sanctuary, Girl Who Gardens

Birds can help draw you outside more, & make you feel more connected to the natural world.

How to Create a Bird-Friendly Garden, Girl Who Travels the World

And your dogs just may love watching the birds too…

Birds can help be a powerful antidote for loneliness, as the simple sound of birdsong can help us feel connected to nature & the natural world. Simply being out in the garden, with birds, butterflies & other wildlife, is also an antidote for days spent too long on the computer.

How to Create a Bird-Friendly Garden

So the biggest take-aways for creating a bird-friendly backyard sanctuary: add arbors & tall trees to give birds a perch, plant a wide diversity of plants & shrubs, sprinkle wild bird seed in feeders, & consider investing in a tiered garden fountain.  The fountain isn’t just a gift for the birds, but its gentle sound adds so much peace & serenity to the garden…

xoxo Noelia

Read Next: How to Create a French Country Garden

Ravenna Fountain

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How to Create a Bird-Friendly Garden, Girl Who Gardens