The return of migratory birds to our yards and gardens can be a welcome sign that winter has passed us by and spring has finally returned. Some of us wait for robins, while others wait for geese and ducks to return to ponds and waterways. We hear them in the trees through our open windows, and we see them as we start to spend more time outside. It doesn’t take us long to realize how welcome they are once they are back, and to wonder how we can attract more birds to our yard – or perhaps coax the ones we have to stay, and nest.
What birds need:
- natural habitat and shelter (birdhouses or boxes, plus an abundance of trees, shrubs and plants for shelter)
- water (for drinking and bathing)
- nesting material (twigs, sticks, grass, dried leaves, feathers, pet hair, etc.)
- food (natural sources and supplements you might want to provide)
What to feed birds in your yard:
Birdseed, sunflower seeds, suet (which you can purchase mixed with seeds and/or berries), millet, cracked corn, nectar for hummingbirds (sugar water, without red food colouring, please). Larger birds might like peanuts, popped popcorn, fruit, soaked raisins, or other larger items. Be creative, do a little research, and if you have kids, don’t hesitate to try preparing your own bird food at home. It can be a great project to share with little ones.
Be sure to do a little research to find out what the birds in your area are eating, and ensure if you decide to offer food that you are keeping the feeders clean and dry, that the suet isn’t left out to go rancid and other health considerations. It doesn’t help to offer food that won’t be healthy or safe.
Most birds get what they need from nature, but the more we clear trees and develop our cities, the less there is for birds to eat. If you want to attract them into your yard to stay, it would be a good idea to think about food sources. Well-fed birds will often stick around, and if they do, many will likely nest.
Benefits of welcoming birds to your yard:
Extending a welcome to birds in your yard is good for everyone. Our communities are bettered when we find ways to coexist with the species we are displacing as our urban areas spread. It’s also good for kids to stay in touch with nature, and to foster their interest and respect from a young age. Birds help us and our yards by eating insects that are considered pests in most yards – think of how many mosquitoes some species eat! And finally, our love for our outdoor spaces increases when we engage, connect, and find ways to increase our enjoyment. Kids also tend to love projects that get them into nature, so keep them busy preparing bird food, cleaning bird feeders, building nesting houses and feeders, and gathering nesting material to leave out for the birds.
Birds common in Canada :
Birds native to Canada can vary from province to province. It can be a great family project to track what bird species you have seen with your kids – does it change year to year? Does it vary from home to perhaps your favourite greenspace or camping spot?
Here is a list of all the birds commonly found in Canada, but you could do your own research to find ones common in your specific area. This could be good research for kids who show an interest
Ask your kids to look over your list as the year progresses – which birds are migrating? Which are staying?
Do you get a lot of birds in your yard? How do you attract them? Do they stay and nest? We’d love to know if you have tips or tricks to share!