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Landscaping Tips

A 1980 survey by the U.S. Department of the Interior reported that more than 60 million people actively participate in feeding wild birds. This figure has rapidly grown for good reason: Feeding birds brings the beauty of nature up close, it’s easy and costs little. 

Table 1 is a listing of native plants that have attributes that are attractive to birds. The list is to assist you in selecting your landscaping plants and by no means is it a complete list. 

Table 2   is a list for using common bird seed or fruit to attract common backyard birds in South Florida. The information is a composite of personal observation from Steven Hofstetter, former biologist for the EEL Program and material that was gathered from a study done by Dr. A.D. Geis of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Most of these seeds are found in wild birdseed blends.

  • Plant native vegetation (See Adopt-a-Tree). Most native birds will be drawn to these plants. Table 1 is a list of some native plants that are known to attract birds because of their fruit or berries or because insects feed on these plants (which is a food source for insectivores). There are several nurseries in South Florida that specialize in Florida native plants.
  • Select plants that flower or fruit during the spring or fall migration and attract insects.
  • Select a variety of plants which offer a consistent supply of food over an extended period of time.
  • Provide a birdbath or pond. A reliable source of fresh water is an essential ingredient in any bird-attracting program. Many species of birds that don’t eat specialized foods may be drawn to the yard by water (particularly to the sound of water).
  • Provide an additional food source. Bird feeders are an easy and fun way of attracting birds to your yard. Try a variety of food types and locations. See Table 2 .
  • Provide nesting locations by putting up nest boxes. Effective nest boxes for the South Florida area are Purple Martin Houses, Eastern Screech-Owl/American Kestrel nest boxes and woodpecker nest boxes.  Some of the boxes may also attract squirrels.
  • Plant a few clusters of shade-loving small trees, shrubs, and ground covers under your taller trees to provide cover layers for different kinds of birds.
  • Take advantage of the openings already existing in your landscape by planting their margins with dense shrubs and hedges especially attractive to birds. Lawns, patios, the street, the driveway, and sidewalks are all candidates for this treatment.
  • If your yard is mostly lawn, planting a central island of shrubs and flowers and a small fruiting tree is a quick and easy way to make it more attractive to birds. A birdbath and feeder will intensify its usefulness.
  • If you have hedges, leave them unclipped or prune them naturally by selective branch removal. Restrict your pruning to after any fruit they produce has fallen and birds are not nesting.
  • If you have flower beds, leave as many of the spent flowers as possible to provide food for birds once the seeds ripen.
  • If possible leave a portion of your lawn uncut, this will provide additional food and shelter for birds as well as potentially increase the number of bird species that may visit your yard. As an alternative, plant native grasses as part of ground cover planting. Many have attractive flowers and provide a seed source for ground feeders.
  • If all you have is a windowsill, you can still attract birds. Flower pots and boxes can provide a green spot to draw the attention of passing birds. The flowers may even attract hummingbirds. Doves will commonly nest in window boxes or hanging pots. Add window bird feeders and hummingbird feeders or a small pan of water about 12 inches in diameter. These additions will keep them coming back for more.
  • Keep cats out of the yard.

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Back to Top Page Last Edited: Wed Jun 12, 2013 10:11:26 AM

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