Whether city or country, bird watching is fun and you
can create an environment for it in your own backyard in
less time than you think.
John Robinson, chief ornithologist and manager of Scotts
Birding Center of Excellence, says there are three
components to making your backyard an oasis for feathered
1. Vegetation provides shelter
Having a variety of shrubs and trees in your yard makes
it bird friendly. Birds use trees, shrubs and plants to hide
from both the elements and their natural predators, as well
as to roost or nest in. Additionally, the right types of
vegetation also provide fruit or seeds for the birds to eat.
White pine, arborvitae, spruce, juniper, cedar, holly and
other broadleaf and needle evergreens provide essential
protection all year as well as food. Hedges of serviceberry
or viburnum provide food, shelter and nesting spots. Flowers
like columbine and trumpet vine attract hummingbirds with
their sweet nectar.
2. Quality food nourishes
Not all bird food is created equal. Look for blends that
were researched in the field and created to attract the
types of birds you want to see in your backyard. Avoid
filler material like milo, wheat or cracked corn.
To attract colorful birds, Robinson recommends Scotts
Songbird Selections Colorful Bird Blend, which was developed
by ornithologists. This mix is made from 10 high-quality
ingredients that are blended in a specific ratio designed to
attract more colorful birds. Results may vary by region
and/or season, but Colorful Bird Blend has been proven to
attract up to twice as many than with ordinary wild bird
food. The mix is also less attractive to blackbirds,
grackles and cowbirds, which are often considered a
Another good option is Scotts Songbird Selections Wild Finch
& Small Songbird Blend, which was scientifically mixed to
attract goldfinches. Field research done across the country
by Robinson, his team, and university partners, shows that
while results may vary by region and/or season, this mix can
attract up to two times the amount of finches as other types
of ordinary wild bird food. Additionally, it also attracts
other interesting small birds such as nuthatches, chickadees
and native sparrows.
3. Water quenches thirst
Putting out a birdbath, especially one with a trickle or
fountain, makes your garden a very popular spot in any
season. Whether you put a decorative birdbath in your
backyard or simply place a large clay saucer on the ground
or on top of a tree stump, make sure it has a rough surface
and a shallow bowl. If you have a pond or stream, place flat
rocks in them for bird perches.
Birds require fresh water, so clean birdbaths often and
replace water every couple of days.
For more information and additional ideas on how to create a
bird habitat in your own backyard, visit