June 21, 2019 | Kelly Barany, Chin Ridge Seeds (en-CA)
If you want to attract a large variety of birds to your backyard, it is necessary to carefully select the plants in your backyard with the birds in mind. Trees and bushes provide shelter and nesting sites for wild birds. Fruit trees and nectar producing plants provide food for birds that enjoy fruit and nectar. Plants that set seed, can provide seed for birds throughout the winter. So selecting plants is key to attracting a wide variety of birds in your backyard, and here are a few ideas for you to consider:
Many people enjoy seeing hummingbirds, so planting something to attract them into your backyard may interest you. Hummingbirds have long, thin bills that are ideal for probing into trumpet shaped flowers to find the nectar they are seeking. They also seem to be more attracted to flowers that are red in colour. At the greenhouse, search for annuals that are high in nectar production such as fuchsias, nasturtiums, snapdragons, dianthus, foxglove, impatiens, and petunias. Also consider perennial plants, shrubs and vines that will attract hummingbirds like bee balm, phlox, columbines, coral bells, hollyhock, foxglove and lupines, morning glory or honeysuckle vines.
Seed eating birds are very attracted to the seed heads in flowers. Unfortunately, the seeds in the flowers are not available to the birds until the seed head has dried out. So during the season, either refrain from deadheading or flowers or if you do, save the seed heads, and once they have dried out, offer them to the birds in a tray feeder. Once fall is here, leave your flowers and the seed heads standing and you will have the birds visiting even in colder weather conditions. Some of the annual and perennial flowers you can look for at the greenhouse for attracting seed eating birds include asters, lupines, columbines, coneflowers, yarrow, cosmos, marigolds, zinnias, black eyed susans, daisies, impatiens, and sunflower mixes.
When planting shrubs, vines, and trees consider plants with berries such as virginia creeper vines, junipers, dogwood, mountain ash, chokecherry bushes or trees, Russian olives, and crabapple trees. The robins and waxwings will thank you!
Birds need shelter from the wind, rain and snow and safety from predators. Thick dense plants like cedars or pine trees can offer this to birds. So consider planting some taller and denser plants to provide this shelter.
There are so many choices of plants and it can be overwhelming. Talk to your garden specialist and take your time when planning new plantings. Remember that attracting birds to your yard is not only about what feeders you have in your yard. Birds are also looking for the right environment, including plants, when deciding whether to spend time in your backyard.