Draw birds to your property by planting trees, shrubs and flowers that provide food, places to rest, and protection from wind and predators. Add water sources such as bird baths or ponds. Use pesticides sparingly and, as much as possible, keep cats inside.
Did you know that more than 470 species of birds visit or live in Florida? Some stay only for the spring and summer, during which time they raise their young. Other bird species live in the state year-round. Still other species stop in for rest and food on their migration routes to faraway destinations.
Whether you’re an avid birdwatcher or a homeowner who enjoys having an avian population on your property, follow these suggestions to create a safe and welcoming habitat.
Provide Plants and Trees for Shelter
Birds feel safer in densely planted areas than in open spaces. Trees, shrubs, and plants with lots of foliage provide abundant hiding and roosting places.
When designing your landscape with birds in mind, create large or long beds that can hold many plants. Layer bed vegetation in tiers for a habitat that provides different heights of plants.
Select different kinds of plants and keep in mind how each may change with the season. Make sure to include trees and shrubs that will keep their leaves during winter.
Provide Sources of Food
Be intentional about including vegetation that will provide food for your resident or visiting bird friends. Birds enjoy nuts, berries, cones, and seeds. Birds also enjoy eating bugs and insects that are attracted to plants with flowers and nectar.
In Florida, try growing plants like dwarf Burford holly, American beautyberry, American elderberry, wild coffee, thornless blackberries, May-haw, Red-haw, and red mulberry. The muscadine grape, or wild grape, is also a great source of food.
Remember hummingbirds. Plant flowers with nectar such as fireweed, elderberry, honeysuckle, bleeding hearts, fuchsias, trumpet vine, daylilies, butterfly bush, salvia, and lobelia.
Include Water Features
Consider adding a pond to your landscape to welcome water-loving birds and provide water for your other winged populations. If adding a pond is not workable, put a few birdbaths around the property, or a fountain. Make sure the birdbaths are regularly filled with water and place them near shrubs or trees. A birdbath out in the open offers birds no protection from predators.
Bird deterrents include cats and pesticides.
In urban areas, cats are responsible for more bird deaths than any other factor. Can you keep your cat inside? Consider doing so for the sake of the birds on your property.
Just say no to pesticides and consider organic alternatives. Pesticide granules can look like gravel and get picked up by birds. Berries sprayed with toxic substances get ingested by birds and make them sick.
Save Your Trees
Trees provide many resources for birds, including places to perch, roost, hide, forage, and nest. Their shade cools plants and air below.
Don’t be hasty about cutting down trees. Leave as many as you can. Even dead trees may not have to be removed completely. Cut them off at ten to 15 feet and use as supports for climbing plants.
Create a welcoming environment for birds, and they will return every season or even become permanent residents. Research the nesting months of birds in your area and intentionally provide quiet, protected areas for them during those times. It may take a few years, but if you create a place that meets birds’ needs, you’ll enjoy a growing resident group and see more and more returning seasonal guests.