For The Birds

By Lauren Baumbauer

February 19, 2010 5 min read

From canaries to parrots, birds attract our eye with their beauty and bring amusement, joy or annoyance with their songs and squawks. They also bring beauty to a yard, and sometimes their feeders and birdbaths are used as pieces of art for landscaping.

Whether you are interested in having a bird as a pet or just enjoy the aesthetics of having them in your yard for a quick round of bird-watching, here are some essentials to keep the birds happy and coming back for more while adding something interesting to your home.

If you're more interested in having birdie visitors than you are in owning one, setting up your backyard or porch with something that will attract your avian friends is the way to go. One way to do this is with a birdbath, which replicates a puddle on a pedestal, usually with a shallow basin filled with water for drinking and bathing.

Birds need water, and providing them with a clean and safe source of water, especially in the wintertime, is recommended by Ornate Bird Garden, an online resource for critters, crafts and container gardening. Especially if you already have frequent flying visitors, a birdbath will give them a safe place to drink and clean themselves.

According to Sally Roth, the author of "Attracting Birds to Your Backyard," a shallow birdbath that gradually deepens, is safe from cats and other predators, and is kept clean on a regular basis for the health of the birds and to prevent mosquitoes is best. It doesn't need to be more than 2 inches deep in the middle.

Ideally, the birdbath shouldn't be surrounded by any bushes or hiding places for predators, but it should be close to a resting place, such as a hanging limb, so a frightened bird can move out of harm's way. The more elevated the birdbath the better.

There are several kinds of birdbaths, from the traditional two-piece pedestal and stand concrete type to the glass, plastic and mosaic tile variety. They come in a variety of styles and colors to match any backyard decor. There are even heated birdbaths, some of which are solar-powered and can be found at BirdBaths.com.

A less obvious -- but still full of potential for great design -- method for feeding and attracting wild birds around your house is with a bird feeder. There are different types of bird feeders, from trays to hanging apparatuses, but they're all devices utilized to provide food to outdoor birds. This is especially perfect during the wintertime, when food may be scarce.

The most common feeder is the seed feeder, and different seeds or other forms of food will attract different types of birds. Investigate the birds most common in your area and the best type of food for them before picking out a feeder. Also, if squirrels run rampant in your neighborhood, look into getting squirrel-proof feeders or becoming very creative with the placement of the feeder. Squirrels can be quite acrobatic and able to get around most obstacles to the feeder.

If you're fortunate enough to live where hummingbirds thrive, don't forget about them. Instead of seeds, hummingbird feeders are filled with liquid that includes sugar to replicate nectar. According to Birding Depot, the liquid sometimes is colored red to attract the hummingbirds. It's common to find red feeders or feeders with red accents for the same reason.

If you want to keep a family of birds nearby regularly, a birdhouse or nest box is your best bet. Most birdhouses are wooden; some are a combination of wood and concrete for stronger structures. There are metal ones, as well, but they tend to overheat in warmer seasons. Birdhouses can be found on trees, hanging off wires or propped against houses and come in multiple styles and sizes, usually based on the types of local birds. Building your own birdhouse is also a fun weekend project.

Before entertaining birds, make sure to know which kind will be visiting you, and plan any bird feeders, birdhouses and birdbaths accordingly. Clean everything regularly, and use fresh food and water. Then sit back and enjoy the beauty of the birds.

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