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How to attract birds to your landscape By Michelle McLane – Washington County Master Gardener

Washington Co., WI – Nearly 400 bird species call Wisconsin home with 15% of them staying within our state year- round. The three main things that help attract birds to your landscape are food, shelter and water.

Master Gardners, birds

The types of feeders and food you use will determine the types of birds that you can attract.  The type of feeders you can choose to attract birds include shelf, tube, sock and suet feeders.  There are also traditional bird houses, hummingbird feeders and oriole feeders especially in the spring.  Types of food that can attract birds include; safflower, sunflower, niger (thistle), suet, fruits, nuts and sugar water (nectar), and fruit jelly for orioles.








Placement of the feeders are important.  Place them where there is shelter from the wind and mounted at least 5-6 feet off the ground.  Also, increase the availability of feeders to reduce competition and place feeders near places of cover like trees and shrubs.  Place feeders 3 feet or more away from windows to reduce collision and injury.

Providing structures of shelter are important for birds during inclement weather and to find a safe place to raise their young. Wood houses are a good choice in your landscape.  Choose a natural color and avoid bright colored houses which can attract predators.  Make sure houses are securely attached to trees or buildings and provide thick walls and a sloped roof with a 1 to 2-inch overhang to keep birds snug and dry.

Provide holes for drainage and ventilation.  There are gourd bird houses and grass woven houses which are environmentally friendly and provide a warm and cozy place for birds.  You can remove old nesting and clean the bird houses once a year which can be done by using one-part bleach to nine parts water.  Check first that the nest is empty and make sure all birds are not using it beforehand.








Provide water to attract birds for bathing and drinking.  This can save birds long flights to get to a water source.  You can use bird baths to attract birds that do not otherwise eat seeds to your yard with fresh clean water.  You can also add small heating type elements into your bird bath in winter weather to keep the water from freezing.

Sit back and enjoy attracting a variety of song birds to your landscape.

Click HERE for more information on Washington County Master Gardners.

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