How do you begin?
An easy way to start out attracting birds is to put up a bird feeder. We'll help you choose feeders and foods that appeal to the birds you want to attract, plus we'll tell you where to put your feeder and how to maintain it. And we can give you some hints about food items, such as eggshells, fruits, and mealworms, that provide extra nourishment for some wonderful species.
Some birds, especially woodpeckers and chickadees, excavate cavities in tree trunks for nesting and roosting. Many other species, such as wrens, bluebirds, and some ducks and owls, nest in cavities that other birds have made. Nest boxes offer these birds a place to raise their young, especially where natural cavities are at a premium. Our nest box section describes the features of a good nest box, where to place it, and how to avoid predators. Our nesting section also lists some nesting materials you can offer that will help a wide variety of species.
A source of clean water, for drinking and bathing, may attract birds that donít visit feeders. We can help ensure that your water helps birds, not mosquitoes or algae. And we've got ideas for other great attractants, too, such as building a brush pile.
Bird feeding has been an American tradition since at least the times of Emily Dickinson and Henry David Thoreau. It provides us with wonderful opportunities for close viewing of birds. It can also be good for birds.
Feeding birds helps them individually by providing easy food sources during severe winters and harsh migration periods. It also helps birds collectively by fostering our understanding of and affection for them, and by providing opportunities for citizen scientists to collect a large, widespread body of data that is helpful for conservation purposes.
Bird feeding does bring a few problems with it. Feeding stations should be maintained properly; otherwise, disease organisms can kill individual birds, sometimes in large numbers. Inappropriate food items can be unhealthy and possibly lethal. When birds fly off from feeders, they can crash into our windows ó and half of all birds that hit windows die from their injuries. When bird feeding subsidizes some invasive exotic species, these birds can wreak greater havoc on native populations. And bird feeding may maintain populations of some opportunistic birds at higher levels than is healthy for the environment and other, more vulnerable bird populations.