The three basic components of attracting birds and butterflies to your yard are providing food, water, and shelter. With these three elements, birds and butterflies will feel safe and continue to return throughout the year. Bird feeders and bird baths are usually the first thing that pop into people’s minds when they hear ‘food and shelter’. But those aren’t the only ways to turn your yard into a winged haven or bird sanctuary. In addition to feeders and bird baths, a good landscape design and plant selection are great ways to naturally attract birds and butterflies to your residential landscape.
The food that song birds like to eat is different than the food that woodpeckers, orioles, or hummingbirds like to eat. To attract a wide variety of birds, plant a wide variety of plants in the yard. This is the exact reason why there are so many types of bird feeders. A mix of berries, seeds, and flowers on plants are a great way to compliment feeders with suet, sunflower seeds, or sugar water.
Shrubs and trees with berries are a great way to keep birds coming to your yard even in winter. Best Winter Interest Plants Some plants will produce fruit in the spring and summer, while others will wait until fall. A shrub like the Winterberry hangs onto its berries through winter. Birds will love this delicious snack when there is shortage of food during the harsh conditions of winter. Plant these ornamental trees and shrubs in the landscape for a consistent and low maintenance source of food.
Seeds are a great source of protein for birds. Lucky for us, these plants are also gorgeous to look at. Plants like the Purple Coneflower and Black Eyed Susan have large seed heads with flower petals surrounding it. It is very common to find birds perched on top of these seed heads in the fall. Even though these plants are good producers of seed, their foliage and blooms are just as impressive.
- Blue Spruce
- Purple Coneflower
- Black Eyed Susan
Nectar attracts hummingbirds, butterflies and bees. These plants are covered in bright flowers and when the season is right, they will have frequent visitors in the form of hummingbirds and butterflies. Butterfly gardens are highly showy because of all of the bright flowers. It is important to select plants with staggering bloom times so there is a constant supply of nectar during the summer. To fill in gaps, potted plants with annuals are a great way to attract hummingbirds and butterflies since they will bloom all season long.
- Butterfly Milkweed
- Trumpet Vine
Trees and shrubs are not only great for building nests in, but also for adding temporary shelter from harsh elements or predators. Not every bird is looking for the same type of habitat however. Some birds want large mature trees, others thrive in open prairies. Your neighborhood might not be built in a way that will support or attract every type of bird. Planting a nice variety of trees, shrubs, and perennials will at least lend good shelter for the birds that do come.
Incorporating a water feature into the landscape is a fantastic way to provide birds and butterflies with a spot to drink, and bathe in. Surrounding boulders offer a nice warm spot to sun bathe. Some of these luxury amenities can make a big difference in attracting and keeping birds in your yard. Think of your garden as a miniature resort for birds. All they want is a safe place to come eat, drink, and relax.