Backyards are for the Birds

by : Craig Gleason

Adding a bit of wild living to your day to day is easier than you think. It doesn't really matter where you live or what kind of home you live in, if you have a window to the world, you can take a shot at bringing nature a bit closer to home. Hanging a birdfeeder or even better - a selection of bird feeders - within sight of your window is a great way to transform your indoors by bringing them just a little bit closer to the outdoors. If you have kids, they'll love it. Forget about television - cardinals, jays, sparrows and finches can become the stars of breakfast time. They come for a snack, they sing, they fight, they fall in love. Over the course of the season, a real scene can develop.

If you Feed Them, They will Come

Don't believe that the birds will really come to your house in the treeless suburbs or downtown core? Try it. Hang your feeder in a protected, but visible spot. Birds are skittish and they like to feel safe. In fact, plunking a feeder right in the middle of your backyard or attaching it directly to a window, may be a surefire way to keep most of the shier birds away. Even the prospect of a free meal won't be enough to get their courage up. If you live in an apartment, create your own wildlife sanctuary on the balcony. Wait for it to catch some lucky bird's eye and then let nature take it's course. What happens next is interesting. Sooner or later, word gets around. Perhaps the most surprising thing about efforts to attract birds in apparently birdless areas, is that it works. The variety and number of species in urban areas is often astounding. Don't give up. It can sometimes take weeks for your fine feathered friends to discover their free lunch.

Don't want a free for all? Choose the type of birds you prefer to attract and set out specialized bird feeders just for them.. There are hummingbird feeders, finch feeders, winterbird feeders, and even springloaded feeders that shut off the food supply when the big bully birds come around. Do a bit of research on the type of birds you want to attract as they will favor certain foods over others. Jays will go for corn while hummingbirds love a mixture of sugar and water.

Once you get started, there are plenty of ways to enhance your mini bird sanctuary that will make it more inviting for the birds and more enjoyable for birdwatchers. For instance, consider offsetting the feeder with a birdbath or adding plants to your garden that provide additional food sources. Create a seating area where you can see the birds that come to visit. Buy some books that will help you identify some of the many species that show up and keep them near your viewing area. Now just sit back and enjoy.