Getting Birds to Nest in Your Yard

   Every year, literally millions of people put up bird feeders and bird houses across the nation in hopes of attracting birds to their yard. Birds have always been appreciated, weather for their beautiful plumage, lovely songs, or by our natural curiosity of flight. In this essay, we will discuss some ways to attract some of the ‘most wanted’ birds to your yard in the most cost efficient and easiest ways. When I say easy, however, I do not mean that attracting these birds will be easy, but like with most projects, some methods are far simpler and require less work than others.

   We will first discuss habitat, which is by far one of the most essential facets to consider when attempting to attract birds to your yard. For instance, you couldn’t possibly hope to attract Icterus gablula, the Baltimore oriole, and you lived in an area surrounded by cornfields and hardly any trees, you would hardly succeed. In fact, it would be far easier for you to attract blue jays, if you don’t have them already. The most common birds that people attempt to attract include Baltimore Orioles, Eastern Bluebirds, ruby-throated hummingbirds, and woodpecker species. In the remainder of this essay, we will discuss attracting eastern bluebirds and our previous example, the Baltimore oriole.

   The first species that we will discuss is the Baltimore oriole. Preferred habitats by this species includes suburban areas, parks, and country areas that have plenty of trees, and preferably, a water source nearby. These birds are best attracted by placing a bright orange oriole feeder out in mid April, and filling it with a homemade nectar made of a solution of four parts water to one part sugar. Once the birds find the feeders, put fresh orange halves and a dish of grape jelly nearby. A birdbath is a nice addition that the oriole might also like. Remember this one general rule of attracting birds: If they build a nest, they mean to stay, if they don’t, they most likely won’t (stay). You can easily identify an oriole nest as a white sack made of plant fibers, hanging off of the end of a branch. This type of nest is know as a pendulous nest, and is not used by many bird species, the most common nest type by far being the cup nest. The interesting thing about oriole nests is that the open end, or entrance hole to the nest can be opened or closed, much like a bag with a drawstring can be pulled closed with the strings on each end.

   Last, we will discuss the eastern bluebird. Aspiring birdwatchers and non-birders alike probably try to attract the eastern bluebird more than any other bird. These beautiful birds boast bright blue backs, wings, and head on the male, but the female is a much duller blue. Both male and female bluebirds, however, have the rusty colored breast and white bellies. Bluebirds prefer a habitat of open fields and meadows and even golf courses. Trees are not a problem, as long as there aren’t to many of them. Bluebirds are cavity nesters, and the best way to attract them is with a birdhouse. Because natural nesting cavities aren’t common, bluebirds often use birdhouses as a place to safely raise a brood. Bluebirds begin nest construction much earlier than most species, so nest boxes should be in place by mid March. Another great way to make sure the bluebirds stick around is to place a birdbath near the box. Bluebirds are particularly fond of birdbaths, and they are cheap to maintain. Just a little water is needed everyday. In fact, many bluebird parents will bring their newly fledged young to a birdbath to drink and bathe, and even play!

   These are some good and inexpensive ways to attract two of the Midwest’s ‘most wanted’ bird species. By following these steps, assuming that they are carried out in the proper habitat, you should (hopefully) be enjoying these birds in no time at all. While these birds are enjoyed by few who don’t try to attract them, you will most likely attract them by following these simple steps. If the first year isn’t a success, don’t get discouraged. It often takes a bird a year or two, rarely three years, to find a new birdhouse, food source, etcetera. Good luck attracting birds to your yard!


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