No garden seems complete without birds. They add life and color and music to our little slice of paradise. But how can we attract birds to our gardens and keep them coming back? We need to feed them with the right food in the right way.
Different birds have vastly different diets.
When we match birds’ eating habits to different types of seed and feeders, we’re more likely to lure a variety of birds that make our garden a regular stop.
Goldfinches are a good example. In the spring, male goldfinches take on the brilliant color that gives them their name…. all the better to court the females. Goldfinches are especially fond of niger thistle. (This tiny seed is not related to the weedy thistles that plague our fields and roadsides.)
Niger seed is best “served” in a special mesh feeder with tiny holes that keep the seed from spilling out. The feeder can be any shape. Even a simple mesh bag will work. In addition to attracting goldfinches, niger can also appeal to sweet cheery Black-capped Chickadees and small colorful woodpeckers.
Tube feeders are a great way to provide a mixed combination of bird seed. Tagawa Gardens sells lots of different seeds and seed mixes. One of my favorites is “Fruit ‘n Berry.” This combo brings a long list of birds to my back yard in eastern Douglas County. Blue Jays and Nuthatches are regulars right now. I’m also watching (and listening!) for Red-winged Blackbirds, one of my favorites.
If you enjoy the raucous call of the Blue Jays…
… consider putting up a platform feeder, complete with a daily serving of Tagawa’s unsalted peanuts. They Jays will go crazy! The peanuts will also attract some other large birds, including the beautiful but often bullying Magpies. Cracked corn on a platform feeder has a similar tendency to create quite a stir!
And we certainly can’t forget the hummers!
These tiny charmers love Colorado’s Front Range. Many of them will be attracted to special feeders, as long as the sugar water is fresh and clean. (Recipe: four parts water to one part sugar, with no food coloring.)
Whether your tastes run simple or sophisticated, Tagawa Gardens has a wide variety of hummingbird feeders to suit every bird-loving fancy. A feeder with even a bit of bright red will help draw in these welcome visitors. Hummers are often quite territorial, so it’s best to keep their “buffet” well removed from feeders for other birds. And be sure to place the feeder where a fast-flying hummer can see it as it zips by. Hummingbird feeders should go up in mid- to late-April.
Grow your own seed
Providing seed, dried fruit and nuts is one way to make your yard a hot spot for the birds. Kate Hogan is with the Audubon Society of Greater Denver. She’s a big fan of planting for the birds. Tagawa Gardens can help you with that, too!
For the hummingbirds, tube-shaped flowers are a real draw. One of Hogan’s personal favorites is Sunset Hyssop. The hummers’ long beaks can take advantage of nectar deep inside the flowers where foraging insects can’t reach. Red, pink and blue salvias and red, pink or purple penstemons routinely draw a crowd in my back yard. Tagawa’s Perennials Department has a list of other plants that appeal to these small but mighty fliers.
Hogan and the Audubon Society of Greater Denver also recommend planting native species for the birds whenever possible. Golden currants and certain types of serviceberry from Tagawa’s can be planted this season to begin producing valuable fruit for birds next winter. Tagawa’s Nursery Department can recommend other shrubs that will provide excellent forage for the birds.
Always remember the water!
A reliable source of clean water is essential for a healthy bird habitat. Tagawa Gardens has bird baths of every shape, size and color. It’s critical to keep the water fresh and the baths themselves scrubbed clean.
Robins don’t come to my seed feeders, but they sure love my bird baths! It always brings a smile when mom and pop Robin and their whole brood come in for a dip. One at a time, they swish and splash and send water everywhere, and then get on with their day. Family life in the bird world at its best!