Make your backyard conducive to bird-watching

21 October, 2014

No matter where you live, your location is probably home to a variety of native bird species. These animals produce cheerful sounds and are certainly fun to look at, whether you're an expert ornithologist or simply like the look of robins. Of course, you'll get to spy more aviary critters if your yard is set up to attract them. With a few easy upgrades (both for you and the birds), your outdoor living space will be ready for bird-watching.

Set up bird feeders
If you feed them, they will come … the birds that is! Start attracting the animals by investing in feeders and seeds. Both come in varieties that have their pros and cons, so do your research. Here are some of the most common types of feeders:

Tray or platform: These feeders are very simple in design and feature a tray mounted to a pole. You pour seeds on the tray, and birds come to eat. While these feeders are easy to use, they are an easy target for squirrels looking to poach an easy meal.

House or hopper: House feeders are shaped like, you guessed it, houses. The seed sits inside the hopper and is accessible near the base. This design protects against other animals, but is conducive to bacteria growth if moisture gets into the hopper.

Tube: These long cylindrical feeders often have several openings or one near the bottom. The tube part (or hopper) carries the seeds. They have similar pros and cons to house-style feeders.

Landscape your yard
Birds also like plants and water, so consider spending time working on your garden. Whether you have flowers, trees, shrubs, grasses or bushes, your yard will be perfect for aviary animals. They like to hide in the foliage, so watch carefully to see them. As for water, birds do enjoy bathing. You may want to add a water feature to your yard, such as a bird bath or fountain. In either case, make sure the container has enough water for birds to clean themselves, but not so much they can't stand in it. 

Get comfortable
As more birds visit your yard, you'll be spending additional time outdoors. For this reason, you want to make sure your space is set up for sitting. Make sure your outdoor furniture sets face your bird baths and feeders so you'll have a spot to lounge as you look. You can create a whole living room-like area by decorating with outdoor sectionals, or use lounge chairs to make your viewing a little more solo.

Keep your bird-watching tools near your seating area, that way you can grab your binoculars and field guides at a moment's notice. Furthermore, you may consider keeping a journal in which you jot down notes on the animals you see. Some amateur ornithologists sketch the animals too, though you can always print a photo to paste in your journal if you aren't confident in your drawing skills. Certain birds come out more in different seasons, and keeping a running list of what you spot will get you accustomed to the cycles.