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An Illinois River Almanac

Jason Haupt's Energy and Environment Blog
 MG 2183

Birds in the Back Yard


As we continue to think about the wildlife that we are attracting to our habitats, birds are inevitably going to come up in the discussion.  If you have read the past couple of entries about improving your back yard habitat, you will likely begin to think that I am harping on the same subject, using native plants.  Birds spread seeds everywhere they go.  A bird eats a seed and before it takes off, it relieves itself spreading seeds everywhere they go.  This is one of the biggest reasons that non-native and invasive species that have berries spread so rapidly.  To help eliminate the problem try planting native plants that have berries instead of non-native plants.

 

  • Attracting birds can be very easy if you think about the things that a bird needs in a habitat.  To make your yard more attractive to birds this year and for years to come think about the following as you plan and plant your garden this year.
  • Try not to fragment the habitat -- Think of the neighborhood as a whole habitat.  Though tall privacy fences are nice to hide your yard from your neighbors, they tend to fragment the habitat.  Shorter fences do not create the barrier for the birds.  Using green fencing or using plants as a screen is an excellent way to have some privacy, but also creates nice habitat for the feathered residents in your neighborhood
  • Provide Food -- This is one of the easiest ways to attract birds to your habitat, but you may not be providing enough or the right food.  Planting flowers to attract insects and pollinators (look at the blog post titled Butterfly Habitat) will attract insects to your habitat.  This is very important because birds need insects throughout the breeding season.  They need the protein for the young birds to grow.  If you have birds that you want to attract year round, be sure and have your feeders out in the fall and winter, and have the seed available for them.
  • Have Water -- Again this is an easy thing to do.  Having a bird bath is a simple and easy way to provide a water source in your yard.  As the temperature drops heat the water to ensure there is a water source year round.
  • A House to Call Home -- Providing safe havens for birds both for raising young and protection from the elements is important in attracting keeping birds in your back yard.  Having trees and bushes that provide safe roosting and nesting sites for perching birds and having bird houses and bird boxes for cavity nesters will help to attract all types of birds.  In some cases having a bird house can help control some of the more undesirable insects for you in the back yard.  Martin bird houses, which house multiple families of birds, help to control the mosquitos and other biting insects.  This makes it more comfortable for you to be out in your yard.

 

If you have any questions about improving your back yard habitat for birds, please contact Jason Haupt at (309) 547 3711 or jdhaupt@illinois.edu.

 



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