After a long winter with few birds, backyard birders are eager to attract spring birds to bring color and song to their gardens. Fortunately, birds are just as eager to find bird-friendly backyards to visit.
Be an Early Bird
The first step to attracting birds in spring is to be an early bird. The first migrating birds may appear as early as February, long before the snow is gone and flowers are blooming. Birders who act early to attract these initial migrants will establish their yard as a healthy, suitable habitat, and many times the first migrants may stay nearby throughout the spring and summer.
How to Attract Birds in Spring
The key to attracting birds in spring is to meet their needs after a long migration flight and as they prepare for the nesting season. Backyard birders who pay attention to birds’ food, water, shelter and nesting requirements can be successful in attracting them.
In the spring there are few berries, seeds or insects available for newly arrived migrating birds. Offering more birdfeeders with different types of birdseed will help nourish these birds, and keeping suet and other winter bird foods available will also help the birds recover from their long journeys. Hummingbird feeders should be put out at least two weeks before last year’s first arrivals were spotted to be sure to attract the attention of early migrants, and all birdfeeders should be kept clean. For a natural food source, avoid raking dead leaves and lawns to allow birds to glean insects from the debris.
While spring may be a moist season, adding water to your bird-friendly spring landscape is a sure way to attract birds. A dripper can keep the water moving and will attract attention from passing birds, but be sure to keep a heated birdbath or heater accessory available for the still frigid nights. Spring birds are molting, so check the birdbath regularly to keep it clean of discarded feathers.
The nights are still cold in the spring and a late storm can be fatal to small birds if suitable shelter is not available. Keep any bird roost boxes available until the season is well advanced, and add spring pruning clippings to a brush pile. Planting early leafing trees and shrubs can also help attract birds with natural shelter.
In the spring, birds are eagerly seeking suitable nesting areas to raise their annual broods. To encourage birds to take up residence in your backyard, clean out birdhouses and repair them if necessary to be ready for new families. Add nesting material to your yard, and keep feeders filled so parent birds know your yard is a good place for a convenient food source.
Keeping Spring Birds Safe
Spring can be a perilous time for migrating birds. New arrivals are often skittish and nervous until they learn what territory is safe, and by providing a safe backyard you can create a bird sanctuary to enjoy all season.
- Keep cats indoors or take other measures to protect backyard birds from cats
- Put up window clings and take other steps to prevent bird window collisions
- Delay spring insecticide and pesticide treatments to encourage birds to eat insects
- Take steps to protect backyard birds from hawks that will also be hungry during spring
- Avoid working in the yard or garden in the early morning and late evening when birds are most active
Quick Tips to Attract Spring Birds
To make your yard even more attractive to the birds and encourage spring visitors to your feeders…
- Add a gazing ball to your garden for instant color to attract songbirds and hummingbirds
- Turn over mulch in your flowerbeds to make it easier for birds to forage for insects
- Use hanging baskets or moveable planters for early spring plants that can be taken inside if necessary
By providing for birds’ basic needs early in the season, it is easy to attract birds in spring so you can enjoy them all season long.
Photo – Japanese White-Eye in Spring © Richard Fisher