The sound of birds is inexplicably soothing. Their chirping provides the perfect natural soundtrack as we tend to the garden and celebrate the arrival of spring. Along with our garden’s renewal, this time of year brings the return of our feathered friends. A daily chorus of birdsong greets us when we step out into the yard, a welcome sign that a new season has arrived.
A garden can be a sort of oasis for birds if you provide the right environment. Even if you’ve been coaxing them into your yard for years with a bird feeder or bath, spring means taking the time to look things over and make some small improvements. If you want a bird-friendly garden, you’ve got to cover the basics: food, water, nesting sites and shelter. Beyond that, you have to keep the season in mind. Here are some tips for giving your feathered friends a warm welcome home this spring:
1. Housing: Thoroughly clean any used birdhouses with a weak bleach solution, and make sure to remove old nests. No one wants to move into someone else’s house! Scatter nesting material around your yard; try building piles of pine needles, dead leaves, or grass clippings and leaving them in protected areas of the garden, where they won’t blow away. Put up new birdhouses in different parts of the yard if there’s a housing shortage.
2. Food: Think spring! Nesting birds need calcium, orioles and hummingbirds crave nectar, and thrushes gobble up fruit and mealworms. It’s important to provide season-appropriate meals, thinking about the types of birds that will be frequenting your garden. As with birdhouses, you should inspect feeders around the yard for damage, make any necessary repairs, and give them a good cleaning. Intersperse feeders around your garden to eliminate competition between large flocks of hungry birds.
3. Landscaping: Create a welcoming habitat by raking the lawn, removing winter mildew that’s accumulated and getting rid of dead grass. This lawn detox also provides a bountiful food source for birds: they love to munch up those early insects that appear in the wake of a good raking. When you prune shrubs and trees, don’t just toss the clippings. Save them and pile them up around the yard as housing material, as described above!
4. Bathing: Scrub your bird baths clean, washing away algae and any other unwelcome build-up. If you’ve left heated bird baths out over the winter, swap them for ordinary ones when you’re sure all danger of frigid weather has passed.