Wednesday, August 5, 2020

DIY: How to make the ultimate bird sanctuary and attract birds to your yard.

If the quarantine and coronavirus did anything good for us, it's that we reconnected with nature.  One of the ways that my family reconnected with nature was by building a little bird sanctuary in the yard.  While the idea seems simple enough, it's not that easy.  Birds are skittish creatures that take some luring.  Additionally, different species take different methods of convincing in order to visit.  Yes, some birds are little snobs.  They may be cute, but still snobs nonetheless.

When we first started, I was under the impression that birds would just appear.  Turns out that couldn't be farther from the truth!  & to be honest, I was getting discouraged.  That's when I bought e-books on birding and read countless blog posts on successful birders.  I researched birds found in my area and what attracted those species to come out to play.  We even visited a local nature preserve to learn about birds and their natural habitats.  After a solid two weeks of research, we redid our entire bird sanctuary and was  s u c c e s s f u l.  We now spend countless hours watching the birds and marking off what species stop by.  Oh, and our frequent visitors get names and a special place in my heart!

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How to create a bird sanctuary in your yard.

Invest in quality bird food, even if it's more expensive.
Cheaper bird food is full of "fillers" that the birds would never eat.  & no bird stops by for a "filler" feast.

Remember that different birds eat different foods.
We've had the best luck with 100% black oil sunflower seeds.  It has no fillers and many birds love it!  Our favorite sunflower seed for quality and price is Wagner's Black Oil Sunflower Seeds.  Our favorite birdseed to attract song birds are Wagner's Nyjer Seed.  Our favorite food to attract woodpeckers and other insect eating birds is Pine Tree Farms Insect Suet.  We also make homemade nectar for our hummingbird feeder to attract those cute little guys.  Did you know that hummingbirds aren't shy?  You can use a window feeder and watch up close!  Other birds, like orioles, also eat nectar and are attracted to things like jelly.  Get creative!

You'll need different feeders to house those different foods.
For the sunflower seeds, you'll need a larger feeder since this will be the main attraction.  The food attracts the widest array of birds and will be a hot spot.  I use a similar large, house shaped feeder like this one because it has plenty of perching room.  For woodpeckers and my suet feeder, I use this feeder because it's accessible from both sides and it has a tail prop.  Woodpeckers are more comfortable at a feeder that has a spot to rest their tail.  A little fun fact for you!  For the nyjer seed, I opted for a larger feeder specially made for this seed that way it can accommodate lots of song birds.  This is the exact feeder that I purchased and have done so well with.  Additionally, the tray does a great job of catching all the dropped little seeds.

Strategically place your feeder remembering these 3 important rules.
1.  Not all birds eat from a feeder.  It needs to be placed where seeds can fall and remain for ground feeders.
2.  Squirrels will eat all the bird seed.  Place it where it's literally impossible for them to reach or jump to.
3.  It's big enough for multiple birds.  Remember, birds attract more birds.  Think of it as the local hangout. 

how to attract birds to a bird feeder

Your birds will become more frequent visitors when it's a one stop shop.
Invest in a good feeder, good food, AND a quality bird bath so they can play or drink the water.  Strategically place these things in a place that they can rest and hang out without fear.  I mean, would you go somewhere to eat where it wasn't safe to linger and had no drinks?  I think not..  During the colder months, put out a heated bird bath so that our feathered friends have a reliable water source even in freezing temperatures.  You can learn more about that by clicking here (link).

Don't get lazy with the bird bath and keep it clean.
Birds will not bath, touch, drink, or entertain yucky water.  Would you?  Clean your bird bath regularly and refill it with fresh water daily.  You'll be thanked with frequent visits!

how to build a bird sanctuary at home

If you remember one rule, remember that birds have to feel safe.
Relocate bushes and trees to your bird sanctuary area so that they have coverage or a place to hide.  We planted several rose bushes, hosta plants, and a holly bush to provide coverage for the birds.  Our final touch was a stepping stone so it could heat in the sun and make a roosting spot.

Research what plants certain birds can be attracted to.
Believe it or not, but the right plants can do a great job of attracting different types of birds.  Sunflowers, black-eyed susans, and daisies all attract different song birds.  Petunias, canna lilies, butterfly bushes, and other cone shaped flowers attract hummingbirds.  Look up your native plants that attract insects.  Plants that bring bugs attract different birds, too.

Supply nesting locations nearby.
One sure way to bring around birds is to give them a place to move in to.  Hanging bird houses high up in a tree or in a nearby bush can convince a family to move in and stay.  Remember to do research!  Decorative bird houses don't often house birds.  For example, to attract blue birds, get a bird house made specifically for them, like this one.  

Birds don't have ESP to know a bird feeder is there.  Make it known.
This is actually one of the best pieces of knowledge that I got from all my research.
A bird isn't going to magically know that you created a sanctuary for them.  You're going to have to put a little effort into attracting them to your area.  The best way to do this is to sprinkle seeds around the ground near your bird sanctuary.  Birds look down from above.  They will easily see the bird seed lingering and come down to snatch it.

Be patient and expect your sanctuary to constantly evolve.
Once you get a few birds to visit regularly, you'll see that others will follow to check out the hype.  Then you'll be able to tell what species you're attracting to your sanctuary.  When you're ready for more, you add and adjust the sanctuary to fit it.  Like mentioned above, attracting new species could be as simple as throwing in orange peels.  It could also be a little more difficult such as offering a suet feeder with a tail rest for a woodpecker.  Whatever it is, just have fun with it and don't forget to learn about your new friends!

How did you connect with nature?


  1. What is that fugly pig doing there?
    We mostly have sparrows, those are the most common birds here, and a pair of turtle doves which always follow us and live near the house. We also had an owl, but out of wild animals we currently have a bat called Ambroze (he flies out at dusk to eat bugs in the air) with an occasional visit from a hedgehog called Jozo. Plus our backyard frog Claudia who is now widowed after her husband Steven disappeared.

    1. Oh no, I looovvee my pig! If you came to my house, you'd find little piggies nestled everywhere. :) Remember the vampire pig I posted about last year? lol I love your animal names and how well you know them. I wonder what happened to Steven. :(

    2. To be honest it is perfectly possible that it is Claudia the one that is missing and that we are left with Steven, as I've no idea how to distinguish a male frog from a female one :) but in my head the story is that Steven cheated on her and she eat him up alive, because she did move from under my mother's balcony to our backyard stairs to cover up her tracks and leave the murder scene. She comes out at night to munch on my cats' food, which is what Jozo the Hedgehog does too.

    3. I like your version too. Seems very scandalous. Did you ever watch Meerkat Manor? Your backyard scandals remind me of that show.

  2. I’ve never heard of having a stone roosting spot. So pretty it all is. Our two homes have had wooded backyards, so we’ve always had abundant birds. But that also means lots of deer, squirrels and chipmunks who also eat everything.

    Over the weekend,we went to two large greenhouses and bought about a dozen new bushes and plants. So far, one of the Sedum plants was completely eaten. It’s discouraging.

    1. Yes! The stone makes for a great spot for them to take a little nap during the day. I can't believe that about the bushes. You've mentioned this before. Do they make fake shrubs?? lol

    2. There are people in our neighborhood who put fake flowers by their mailbox and front door! I think it’s sort of tacky, but I get it!

    3. I hear you. It's definitely not the same, but if the deer are going to eat everything, you eventually admit defeat. Is there a certain mile high fence you can install to keep them away?

  3. Don't listen to Dezzy. That pig is fabulous. He hates my little knick knacks too and has called countless ones fugly at my blog too LOL. He'd hate it here at Halloween.

    We get so many birds in my yard. I watched a daddy bird feed a heavily pregnant mama bird some dried fruits from my bird feeder last summer. It was such a magical thing to witness. They used to lay their eggs in the middle of my yard, but haven't for the past 2 springs. I suppose they found better digs elsewhere. Or, they got tired of me spying on their little babies once they hatched LOL. Your bird sanctuary turned out beautiful. You should be so proud of it!

    1. LOL I remember from previous posts that he really isn't a fan of my pig decor. I love that! I would probably freak out the parents by spying on the babies too.. haha

  4. haha it sure takes some doing to put it in a spot where the squirrels can't get it. Raccoons can get it anywhere as well. Those little buggers are all around here. Rats are another that try and sneak it. You've got plenty of those in NY.

    Sure have become quite the bird connoisseur indeed.

  5. I haven't done the bird feeder myself. I'm too lazy for that


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