A Guide to Bird-Friendly Seasonal Décor
There’s nothing like a flock of pretty, entertaining birds visiting your backyard—especially when you’re missing your vibrant leaves and lush, green grass during the winter. Plus, the knowledge that you’re providing your backyard birds with food and shelter during the cold months can be heartwarming.
Read on for some of our favorite tips and tricks when it comes to bird-friendly seasonal yard décor.
Backyard Bird Shelters
Birds, like other animals, require food, water, and shelter for survival. With enough strategic planning, your backyard can become a bird-friendly safe haven with just a few changes.
If winter months get particularly cold, your feathered friends may enjoy a heated bird bath. From classic pedestal-supported basins, deck-mounted bird baths, and bird baths placed directly on the ground, there are a variety of prices and styles to choose from. You could even purchase an external de-icer for temporary warmth in an otherwise non-heated, year-round bird bath or water fountain.
Birds also love nesting and perching in cozy, safe spots away from predators: underneath shrubs and hedges and inside hollow tree trunks, for example. Brush piles and fallen leaves also provide protective hiding spaces (along with plenty of nest material).
Of course, you can also opt for a winter bird feeder for a combined shelter-and-snacking space.
Bird Feeder Seasonal Décor Options
When it comes to choosing a bird feeder, you have plenty of options to choose from, including:
- Tray or platform feeders
- Hopper or “house” feeders
- Window feeders
- Cylinder or tube feeders
- Suet feeders
You may also choose to turn your evergreen trees or shrubs—or even a recycled Christmas tree—into a sheltered bird feeder. Just make sure your tree or shrub has horizontal branches which are spaced widely enough for hanging edible ornaments, and with plenty of room for birds to feed freely. (Pro tip: if birds already tend to perch in a specific tree, that one is probably your best bet.)
Don’t forget to have fun with your bird-friendly seasonal décor. Feel free to get creative by turning your existing hardscape into a sheltered hangout spot for birds, or even using the arms of a snowman as a temporary bird feeder.
Choosing the Right Location for Your Bird Feeder
Sometimes, it takes a bit of trial and error to find the perfect spot for your backyard bird feeder. Even if you’ve found the most aesthetically appealing placement for a pedestal-supported bird feeder, it’s possible that the birds won’t be interested until it moves to a spot that better suits their preferences.
First, take some time to identify the popular shelter areas in your yard, and place the bird feeder nearby so it’s easy for your feathered friends to find. Once they’re frequenting their feeder, you can begin gradually moving it a few feet or so each day until it reaches your preferred location.
You’ll also want to make sure the feeder provides safe access for birds. While an advantage of bird feeders is that they provide an added sense of life and entertainment, it also means that they’re more noticeable to bird predators such as cats.
Additionally, be mindful of window proximity. You may want to put your bird feeder near a window so you can get a closer look, but be wary of bird-and-window collisions. For best results, place the bird feeder right up against the window, or at least 20-30 feet away.
Feed the Birds
Feeding preferences tend to vary by species, so it’s a good idea to do some backyard bird watching to get a feel for which feathered friends tend to frequent your yard.
If you’re not exactly knowledgeable on the subject, don’t worry—more than 40 different bird species eat black-oil sunflower seeds, so sunflower seeds are typically a good starting point.
In addition to placing bird seed directly in the feeder, it also helps to spread seeds on the ground around the feeder as added guidance.
If you’re opting for a tree feeder, you’ll want to hang some edible ornaments. Hang the bird-friendly snacks on branches with string, twine, or ribbon (and don’t be surprised if those materials may make a later appearance in a nest). Avoid thin threads or fishing lines, as this can easily tangle and could be hazardous to birds.
There are several options to choose from when it comes to bird-friendly edible ornaments, including (but certainly not limited to:)
- Suet cakes or balls
- Pinecones, halved oranges, or bagels covered in peanut butter and birdseed
- Strings of fruit such as raisins, cranberries, and chunks of apples, pears, and oranges.
- Whole fruits
- Strings of shelled peanuts and broken walnuts
- Dried sunflower heads or grain stalks
- Strings of air-popped popcorn
Keep in mind that other critters such as deer, raccoons, and squirrels may also be enticed by your backyard bird feeders. If you’re feeling generous, place some extra food and kitchen scraps in areas accessible to all backyard visitors; otherwise, you’ll want to make an extra effort to keep your bird feeder out of reach from wingless backyard visitors.