Building a Backyard Bird Habitat

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robin in natural bird habitat Over the years we have lived in several parts of the USA and in each we built a backyard bird habitat and sanctuary. If you live on a wooded lot or a piece of land with lots of trees, most of the hard work has already been done. If, however, you live on a property that lacks trees and natural habitat, it may take several years to build your bird sanctuary, but if you love watching wild birds, the results are rewarding.

Wild birds need three things in order to be attracted to your backyard.
  1. Food
  2. Fresh water
  3. Shelter
This list should be familiar. It is basically the same list of necessities that people or any of nature's other creatures require to survive. If you give birds what they want, they will flock to your backyard, especially if they do not find what they need elsewhere in your neighborhood.

Wild Bird Food

Wild bird food needs to be carefully selected based upon the types of birds found in your area--or the types of birds in your area that you specifically wish to attract. If you have cardinals in your part of the country, select a cardinal mix or one that includes shelled safflower seed and sunflower seeds, which are the favorite foods for these colorful birds. If you find hummingbirds in your neighborhood, set up hummingbird feeders in shady spots where the sun will not spoil their sugary nectar. Look for articles or pick up a good book that tells you whish types of wild bird foods your local feathered friends are attracted to. The trick with attracting birds is to give them what they want and they will keep returning to look for more.

Fresh Water

Fresh water is usually in the form of a bird bath. A good bird bath will be 12 inches or larger in diameter and will accommodate a water depth of 1.5 to 3.0 inches. This will handle the needs of more than one bird at a time. The important part with using a bird bath is to keep the water fresh and the bird bath clean. This means spending a few minutes each morning to make sure that the bird bath is full. For most bird baths, a garden hose can be run at full blast for a few seconds to clean out the old water and any debris, and then fill the bath with a trickle of eater.


A good shelter usually means trees with thick foliage. Backyard birds like large or dense trees because they can easily hide from predators, whether those are local cats, hawks, falcons or any other creature that would love to dine on your feathered friends. Many colorful backyard birds are threatened not only from creatures on the ground, but also from those who share the skies.

If you are starting out with a bare back yard, plant trees that will eventually provide birds with the shelter that they like. Walk around your neighborhood early in the morning just as the sun is starting to come up. Will you will hear birds stirring in the types of trees that they like best. Take note of the types of trees in your area where birds roost and nest. These are they types of trees that you want to plant in your yard.

A second type of shelter is a bird house. Proper bird house selection is important for wild birds who are looking for secure places to lay their eggs and raise their young. Keep in mind that birds do not typically live in bird houses. They may sometimes use bird houses for shelters to escape bad weather, but they primarily use them to raise their young so that predators such as squirrels, racoons and birds of prey do not eat their eggs or kill their hatchelings. Most of the year your bird houses will be empty.

If you do your homework and either improve the yard that you have or design a sanctuary from scratch, building a backyard bird habitat can be a very rewarding experience. Remember that if you understand what birds seek and you give them what they want, they will flock to your yard.