Tips for bird-friendly gardening in your home/apartment

Birds, our feathery friends are extremely important for biodiversity and filled with natural intelligence and beauty. If you’re considering growing a terrace, balcony, or backyard garden, birds will add an animated splendor to the aesthetics. They consume insects, bugs, and weeds to facilitate your gardening efforts. They help with flower pollination and pest control naturally. Here’s our guide to attracting birds to your home in a safe and organic way. 

1. Research the type of birds that flock your neighborhood

Scour the internet to find out birds common to your geographical area. Get information from bird-watching groups and forums. Download bird ID apps that are designed to give you information on local, exotic, and migratory birds specific to the Indian subcontinent. Merlin Bird ID is a good app, to begin with. You can also try using bird call apps but play short snippets on low volumes so as to not disturb anyone, including the birds.

2. Grow native plants

You must create an organic habitat to attract birds with native plants that are indigenous plants growing naturally in a particular region. They are adapted to the local climate and are a natural habitat for birds and local wildlife for shelter and safety. Native flowering plants also attract songbirds. Visit your local nursery to select a variety of plants to attract sunbirds too. Sunbirds like to suck nectar from flowers. Hibiscus, Hot Pokers, Erica are good choices if they’re native to your region. Or else any red and orange flowers are attractive to sunbirds. If you love songbirds, you can try daisies, marigold, juniper and berry plants should do the trick. However, make sure you pick a diverse variety of native plants with berries, seeds, fruits and flowers to attract different bird species

3. Don’t manicure the garden

Birds recognise what is natural and what is artificial. They love dense foliage and the presence of worms, leaves, seeds, pollen, and nuts. If you keep your garden pristine, the birds will not have enough appeal to visit. However, you can clear certain areas of the garden to prevent decay and dirt. But not to the extent that it looks and feels too landscaped. However, do keep the area free of cats, hawks and rodents, and invasive plant growth.

4. Use tiered landscaping

Not everything should be at the same height and of the same design. Birds shouldn’t end up competing and fighting for space. Different species of birds have different nesting and feeding habits. So even if you have little space in your backyard or balcony, try different placements. Arrange a low shrub corridor/circle close to the floor and place medium length plants on the sides while keeping a bunch of taller plants and hanging pots branching out into the open. Rearrange the tiers as per the needs of the birds. Plant vertically and horizontally. 

5. Provide them with sustenance all year round

Add a number of bird feeders, birdhouses, and birdbaths to your garden. Birds need three things, shelter, food, and water to visit regularly. 

Platform or tray-style bird feeders are the most common, however, you can also mix it up with Hopper style or tube style feeders as different types of bird species are attracted to different types of feeders. Make sure you get a wooden, glass, or metal feeder which is squirrel/rat-proof, place it visibly, and clean it regularly. Depending on the type of birds you want to invite, fill them with birdseed, mixed nuts, mealworms, unsalted peanuts, millet, corn, bread, and kitchen scraps. But do not put junk food or processed food. Refill the feeders and maintain the food supply even during winters as they’re likely to visit in the cold season for an easy supply of food. 

Water is a must for attracting all birds. Birds who may not be interested in food may be attracted to bird baths especially during summer and spring. Ensure the water is fresh and clean. Birds love preening, splashing around in water apart from drinking it as well. 

You can also consider installing birdhouses or nesting boxes for cavity-nesting species. 

6. Don’t use chemicals

Using chemical pesticides and fertilizers to grow your garden isn’t the best approach for providing natural surroundings to the birds. Instead use natural compost, plant-based herbicides, and homemade garden fertilizer to make a healthy ecosystem for plants as well as birds. 

7. Keep the birds away from windows

Bird mortality is largely increased due to birds flying into the windows. Birds don’t have the ability to differentiate between the glass reflection and the real thing. Use insect screens, fabric shutters, tape strips, tempera paint, nets, or any material over the window that will eliminate reflection and cushion a bird’s fall in case it collides with the window. You can also try zen curtains which are also known as Bird Savers. 

Although it would be wise to attract the right quantity of birds. If you overdo everything and use excessive techniques, too many birds will flock to your garden and create havoc with bird droppings and jostling. Appropriate bird netting, decoys, and scarers can be used to regulate bird visits.

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