How to Get More Wildlife Into Your Backyard

The following ideas, tips and suggestions will help create an environment that will literally "call" the birds to your garden. Water is an important feature and this article will tell why.


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    Install a bird bath. One of the most important additions to your garden is water. All living creatures need water in some form or another. Here in the Midwest we are blessed with natural sources of water such as rivers, lakes and ponds. In residential areas, however, sources of clean water are rare. Birds and other "critters" will flock to bird baths and ornamental ponds.
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    To encourage birds to use a new bird bath, add stepping stones and rocks to bring the bathing depth to 12 inch (1.3 cm) rather than the typical two or three inches in commercial baths. Birds are afraid of drowning and will readily drink from shallow baths while standing on stones.
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    Change the water regularly. Use a mild bleach solution to scrub the bird bath if it gets dirty. Rinse thoroughly and refill. Use an electrical element designed for this purpose to keep the bird bath functional during cold winter months. The birds will flock in large numbers when most water is iced over.
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    If you add an ornamental pond, construct at least one side of it with a shallow wildlife-friendly beach rather than a steep side. Add rocks and pebbles so that the birds and animals will approach to drink and bathe.
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    Add a waterfall or fountain to attract more wild visitors with the sound of moving water. A simple, lo-tech drip system involves more labor but almost no cost. Take an old gallon milk jug and poke a tiny pin-hole near the bottom and another air hole near the top. Suspend it from a tree branch or shepherd's hook so that the slow drip falls into the bird bath. Refill as needed.
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    Surround your ornamental pond or bird bath with native perennials appropriate to your region of the world. Search the internet for a list of local native plants and add a few each year, or divide with friends, until you have a thriving native garden.
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    Protect habitat. Native butterflies are endangered in many areas due to loss of habitat. We all know that bees are similarly threatened. Anything we can do to add native flowers to migration routes and habitats will give the butterflies and bees a boost of nutritious nectar along the way.


  • Keep a bird guide handy by the window that overlooks your new garden and water source.
  • Adding rocks to any garden increases its natural look. Sometimes farmers will allow you to select free stones from the piles they leave beside their fields. It looks better if you "plant" your boulders and rocks rather than leaving on the surface of the soil.
  • Check out local bird watchers. Sometimes there is a local group or a chapter of the national Audubon Society. It's worth going on a bird walk with experts to learn how to identify birds in the wild.
  • There is an iPhone app called iBird Explorer that is pricey but amazing. You can compare similar species, listen to bird songs and calls, see photos of genders, both mature and juvenile, and have a handy pocket-size bird guide for unexpected sightings.


  • If you add water to your garden, remember that it is a potential danger to young children. Prevent accidents!
  • Pesticides and birds do not mix. Remember that they will eat the grubs from your lawn and if there is poison in your garden the birds will suffer. Do your best to preserve the entire ecosystem. Bugs bring birds!

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Categories: Wildlife