How to attract birds to your backyard

Have you been awakened by the cheery chirping of birds lately? If you haven’t yet, attracting birds to your backyard can be extremely beneficial. Birds provide pest control, pollination and weed control as well as opportunities to introduce children to wildlife. Start attracting birds to your deck or backyard by offering food and water. The type of food you provide will determine what kinds of birds you will attract. Different food requires different types of feeders. Birds will eat a variety of seeds and suet out of backyard feeders.

The most popular food is sunflower seed. More birds are attracted to sunflower than any other type of seed. There are two basic types: striped and black oil sunflower. Sunflower seed is available with the hulls removed to avoid a mess around your feeders. And, since birds really love sunflower seed it is best to get a feeder that holds two or more pounds and one that is easy to fill and clean. Your feeder should also protect the seed from rain and snow. You can mount your feeder on a pole or hang it from a tree. You can even find feeders that will mount to a window or deck.

Another type of bird food is thistle seed. Don’t worry, you will not find thistles coming up under your feeder. This is not the common noxious weed thistle found growing wild. This seed has been sterilized and will not germinate. This small black seed is offered to birds in specialized thistle tube feeders or in a mesh “thistle sock” that can be hung or mounted on a pole. Thistle seed will attract American Goldfinches, Pine Siskins and other finches.

Mixed bird seed usually contains cracked corn, white millet, peanuts and safflower seeds and sunflower seeds in varying amounts. This mix makes it attractive to a wider variety of birds. Some mixes contain undesirable seeds, like milo, wheat, oats or rye, which birds really do not like. These seeds serve as filler, so be sure to read the labels before buying. Offer mixed seed in hopper type feeders or in trays mounted just above the ground. Try different types of seed to see which appeals to the birds in your backyard.

Another option is suet. Suet, available in cake-form, is a high-energy food for birds and is a favorite of woodpeckers. Suet cakes require suet feeders, which attach to tree trunks or hang on poles near or with your other feeders. Suet comes with added ingredients such as peanuts or berries and is great for winter feeding as well.

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The birds that visit your feeders will appreciate water as well. You get the added benefit of attracting birds that feed on insects and who do not normally visit feeders.

There are many ways to create a birdbath — from a trash can lid turned upside down to a flowing stream with waterfalls and pools. Any birdbath you provide should have a gradual slope that is not slippery. You can also place thin flat rocks in the birdbath to create shallower areas. Larger birds like deeper areas, about 2 to 3 inches, where they can really get in and splash around. Smaller birds however bathe in very shallow water; sometimes only about 1/2-inch deep. After a few visits there will be droppings and feathers in and around the birdbath. Plan to clean and refill your birdbath every 2 to 3 days. You can use a scrub brush and clean it each time you refill it. Placing your birdbath near shrubs or small trees gives the birds a place to perch as they approach and to preen and dry off after bathing.

There are many more ways to attract birds to your backyard. Bird-friendly plantings create food, nesting areas and protection from predators. Wildflower Farm has an extensive collection of bird food, feeders, and accessories. Our birding book collection has options for the novice to get started, as well as the expert birder.

For more, connect with Colorado Alpines & Wildflower Farm on several of their social media channels. When connected, you’ll receive current news, seasonal tips and exclusive discounts. Colorado Alpines, providing full landscape services and Wildflower Farm, the valley’s only year-round retail garden center, are both located in Edwards on U.S. Highway 6. Reach them at 970-926-5504 or email at

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