Image: Kevin Law
Birds can be delightful visitors to your yard. Not only are they relaxing to listen to and watch, they also provide additional benefits for your property, such as snacking on harmful insects that could destroy your garden.
While birds certainly appreciate your gesture of giving them food, so do other potentially disruptive critters, like squirrels. Creating a yard that is a haven for birds but not squirrels can pose quite a challenge!
Creating a Bird-Friendly Environment
To attract birds to your property, you need to create a habitat that contains the essential elements they need to thrive: food, water and shelter. Strategically placed birdfeeders containing a variety of seeds and other bird favorites can provide munchies for visiting birds throughout the year.
Adding conifers, nectar-producing, and summer and fall-fruiting plants, such as red flowers, honeysuckle, dogwoods and mountain ash, to your landscaping provides additional sources of food while offering shelter and protection. Birds are drawn to water for drinking and bathing, so a backyard birdbath or fountain will make them feel right at home.
A Word about Birdfeeders
A “one size fits all” approach to birdfeeders usually isn’t the best way to attract a wide variety of birds, as some types of birds are particular about their dining environment. While chickadees, for instance, will eat from just about any type of feeder, other birds will only eat from open feeders that are on or near the ground.
A better approach is to use several different types of feeders. Place some of them in areas with cover, such as trees and shrubs, and place others in open areas for the “swooping” birds that prefer fast food on the fly. Fill your feeders with a blend of top-quality birdseed to appeal to a variety of appetites.
When placing birdfeeders on your property, be sure to space them at least 3 feet apart from each other. Birds can get aggressive, especially during those months when food is scarce.
Limiting Squirrel Damage in Your Yard
Squirrels are persistent little creatures and champion diggers that can do plenty of damage. One way to keep squirrels from digging up your bulbs is to cover them with chicken wire, which serves as a protective barrier.
Plant your bulbs at a depth of 12 inches when possible to make it harder for digging squirrels to reach them. Covering your bulbs with leaves in the fall can “trick” squirrels by covering the sight and smell of the freshly tilled soil.
Keeping Squirrels Away
A more effective method of squirrel control is to deter them from entering your yard or garden in the first place. As an animal control expert, I’ve had excellent results in repelling squirrels by using Critter Ridder® by Havahart®, an all-natural product that affects a squirrel’s keen sense of taste and smell, and it won’t harm the environment. It’s a great way to ensure your backyard will remain a welcome home for birds and not squirrels!