Spring is in the air, which means the flowers will soon be in bloom, and birds are beginning their nesting season.
While birds are fun to watch all year long, it’s in the spring and fall -- during migration -- when you will see the greatest variety. So how can you entice these birds to flock by your home?
Bob and Pam Gors, owners of Wild Birds Unlimited in Macomb, had some advice on how to turn your backyard into a bird haven.
1. Provide open water
Birds need open water all year long -- not just to drink, but also to bathe in. Their feathers actually have an insulating property that allows them to warm the air before it hits their body, but it won’t work as well if their feathers are dirty. Since Michigan has a tendency to get below freezing temperatures for several months out of the year, Bob recommends buying a heater for your birdbath. If you don’t have a birdbath, there are baths with built-in heaters you can buy, as well. This will not make a little bird sauna, it will just kick on to keep the water above freezing. This is one of the most effective ways to get birds to visit your yard.
2. Give them something to eat
According to Bob, birds only get about 10% to 20% of their food from bird feeders, but they can make a huge difference during the winter months, or during a drought. Most good feeds have some mix of sunflower seeds and peanuts, as they are a favorite among birds. This time of year, the Gors recommend putting out a nesting blend that has extra proteins and calcium that mother birds need.
The tricky part can be ensuring the birds actually get the food, not other animals. The best way to do that is to change up your feed. Safflower seeds are bitter, and squirrels and some birds do not like them. You can also try hot pepper food. Birds do not have taste receptors to detect heat, but squirrels, raccoons and other mammals do. The spicy food will make it so the birds are the only ones to enjoy it. There are also special feeders that will close shut if an animal with too much weight sits on the perch.
Don’t underestimate the natural food that grows in your yard. Pam, a master gardener, said natural plants in your yard can provide food for birds. Any type of coneflower, like a daisy, should not be cut back during the fall since they produce seeds the birds can eat.
3. Give them a place to build their nest
Especially during this time of year, birds are looking for a place to call home. When looking for a birdhouse, make sure it has proper ventilation and drainage. Depending on the type of bird you want to house, take a look at the opening hole for them to get in. Smaller birds need smaller holes. You can also landscape your home to attract nesting birds. Pam said to make sure you have plants of varying heights in your yard that mimic the natural landscape. Different birds prefer different places to perch and build their nests.
For more information, watch the full video above. To learn more about Wild Birds Unlimited and what it offers, or to find the location nearest you, click or tap here.