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Backyard Birdwatching 101


Known as “birding” The National Audubon Society states there are 47 million birders in the United States alone.  There are also as many tips online of how to bird.

These winged creatures are fascinating. The next time you’re at a traffic light, look up to the electrical wires and watch how they land with military precision. They all face into the wind so as to not “ruffle their feathers.” And then they take off, often in different directions, to manage the tasks at hand.

There’s an innate pleasure in watching birds soar and swoop around your neighborhood. And even in your backyard! Birding is a low-cost hobby you can do from just about anywhere and over the course of the four seasons too. But before you start hoisting binoculars around and buying guidebooks, just take a walk to start observing them.

Sometimes you’ll catch a very small bird defending their catch or their turf from a bigger one. The little birds can be very tenacious. The different species all have their unique traits.

When you start birding, the National Park Service states, “Be patient. While some birds sing and announce their presence continually, some birds are quieter and blend into their environments more than others. They might only become obvious when you stay still for a while, staying alert for motion. Patience also goes for yourself too. Don’t be too frustrated when you can’t ID a bird; the challenge is partly why the activity is rewarding.”

Another interesting aspect of this pastime is that it is something you can enjoy on your own over a tranquil walk through a park or with your family and other birders. Birding will provide a renewed sense of wonder about the landscape that surrounds you. Even if you live in a metropolis, you’ll still have plenty of bird watching activity to enjoy. Check out this selection of bird identification apps provided by Digital Trends.

Backyard Birdwatching

Like any hobby, you can make this as formal or organized as you wish. As we learned from Kevin Costner’s baseball movie, Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come.” If you’d like to enjoy the tranquil pleasure of some poolside birding, you can create a haven birds will love to visit.

Just as you set the best stage for your flowering plants and vegetable garden with the finest soil along with the appropriate amounts of fertilizer, sun, and water, so too do you need to welcome birds so they want to stop by for a visit.

Like your human guests, birds want to know you want them there by providing what attracts them. Burgers on the grill and a keg of beer may work for your friends and family, but birds do seek out specific amenities!

Garth C. Clifford for World Birds penned a wonderful article, 12 Tips on How to Attract Birds to Your Yard Fast.

  1. Feeding Stations

Just like that BBQ, feeding stations will address that basic survival need. Clifford recommends several feeders as that will attract more birds and there will be plenty of food to go around. Because different birds have preferences for different feeders, he suggests, “Start with at least 3 or 4 feeders, placing them at different heights, with a variety of feeder types, giving you the best chance at attracting birds to your yard. The more feeders you have, the more birds you will attract.”

Placement of course is key so you can see them from the comfort of your poolside chaise lounge. They will go to the feeder of their choosing based on their preference. You’ll also want to tempt them with a variety of high-quality food. “Black Oil Sunflower seed is an excellent place to begin and will attract a variety of songbirds, including Blue Jays, Cardinals, Grosbeaks, and chickadees.”

  1. Bird Baths

While the birds will appreciate one, this classic bird attraction is a beautiful addition to your yard’s ambiance. Clifford recommends a solar bird bath with water features. “The sound of moving water is magnetic to most wild birds and curious species will come to investigate even from great distances. Adding movement to a stationary bird bath is as simple as installing a mister, dripper, or circulating pump.”

  1. Color

Just as we find soothing beauty in blossoming shrubbery and potted flowers, birds are also attracted to color because they can see it. Color serves them in everything from hiding from predators to attracting mates. Because birds are attracted to their own color, placing decorative items in the colors you are trying to attract is a good move. “Red is especially known to attract hummingbirds and many feeders come in a bright red hue to catch their eye. While orange and yellow have been known to attract Orioles and Goldfinches and feeders specific to them often come in these hues.”

  1. Perching Sticks

These are not only practical, but they also serve as lovely design elements to integrate with the aesthetics of your outdoor oasis. Like their version of a lounge chair, “Birds need a place to rest, preen, or simply take in the landscape. If your yard doesn’t offer natural structures such as trees or bushes, install a perching stick to create a safe place for your birds to rest.” These little venues even give them perspective to scan the area for enemies. Placed away from feeders and well above hunters (like your cat!), they will be more inclined to swoop in to feed and splash in the bath if they feel they are in a safe space.

  1. Bird Houses

For those longer-term guests, offering this type of shelter will make many species more inclined to visit. “More common occupants of birdhouses include sparrows, chickadees, and bluebirds, but many species will use a birdhouse, so choose the size and type depending on the type of birds you want to attract. If you want to attract chickadees, wrens, or other small birds, an 8-inch tall house, with a 4 by 6 or 5 by the 5-inch base is generally acceptable while the larger the bird, the larger the house it will need, with owls needing houses as large as 24 inches tall with a 10 by 10-inch base.”

Overall, treat your bird guests as you would any others. Keep the places they visit clean and full of food and water. Make them feel safe and welcome with places to relax and pretty things to see. They will reward you with the sheer majesty of their splendor.

Providing pool and home improvement loan solutions since 1979, Lyon Financial loves the great outdoors and every beautiful nuance of nature. We also love the difference we can make for your family by providing something that puts years of memories within reach. Call 877-754-5966 for more information about creating your ideal backyard oasis.