How to Attract Birds to Your Yard in 9 Steps | Stauffers

How to Attract Birds to Your Yard in 9 Steps | Stauffers

Birds are a must for any backyard. They provide natural insect control, beautiful songs, and an educational experience for children and adults alike. Plus, it can be lots of fun to track just how many different types of birds you can welcome to your yard.


Many homeowners have a backyard bird feeder or even a bird bath. But there is so much more you can do to welcome birds and improve your land overall as a wildlife habitat. Interested in learning how to attract birds to your yard? We have the tips you need to create a backyard birding paradise.

Have a specific question about how to attract birds to your yard? Use these links to skip down through the article and find what you need:

  1. Find a Bird-Friendly Corner of Your Yard

  2. Provide a Variety of Feeders

  3. Buy the Right Food

  4. Add a Water Source

  5. Plant a Bird-Friendly Garden

  6. Provide Plenty of Shelter

  7. Offer Opportunities for Nesting

  8. Learn from Your Birds

  9. Make It Official

1. Find a Bird-Friendly Corner of Your Yard

The first step toward attracting birds to your yard is picking a corner of your yard to focus your efforts. You’ll want to place feeders, bird baths, and other offerings where you can enjoy watching from your home. However, you’ll also need to make sure there is sufficient greenery and cover nearby so that birds feel safe enough to explore. Birds can also be territorial, so you’ll want to space out bird food and shelter options to maximize your yard’s bird traffic.

How to Attract Birds to Your Yard in 9 Steps | Stauffers

2. Provide A Variety of Feeders

If you’re interested in learning how to attract birds to your yard, you’ll want to start by buying a few different types of feeders. The feeders you’ll need will depend on the types of birds you’d like to attract:

  • Tube feeders are best for finches, sparrows, and chickadees
  • Hopper feeders are enjoyed by finches, jays, sparrows, and cardinals
  • Suet feeders attract woodpeckers, nuthatches, and starlings
  • Ground feeders are preferred by cardinals, grosbeaks, and blue jays
  • Nectar feeders are a necessity for hummingbirds and orioles

Different species of birds also prefer different feeding heights, so experiment with hanging your feeders higher or lower as well. While lower feeders may attract squirrels and other animals, there are plenty of squirrel-proof feeders available to keep your feeders safe for the birds.

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3. Buy the Right Bird Food

In learning how to attract birds to your yard, you’ll find that each species has food preferences as well. Just as you might prefer sweet foods over salty, different species of birds have different nutritional needs and seek out foods to fill them.

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Dark oil sunflower and suet are great basics that will attract a wide variety of birds. There are also plenty of mixes on the market that are designed to attract a number of species. Other types of food to try include thistle, safflower, nuts and peanut butter, and even mealworms. If you’re not sure what food to buy for your particular feeder, someone at your local home and garden center should be able to help.

4. Add a Water Source

Adding a bird bath or water source is the next step in learning how to attract birds to your yard. When water is available, many species of birds will bathe every day to keep their feathers clean and healthy. Offering shallow bird baths (one to three inches deep) or even building a small pond in your yard will help birds stay clean and hydrated.

How to Attract Birds to Your Yard in 9 Steps | Stauffers

Birds listen for moving water, so adding a pump or mister that creates fresh, bubbling water will draw even more feathered friends to your yard. If you live in a cold climate, you may also want to invest in a heater or de-icer to keep your bird bath or pond from freezing . Birds bathe year-round, but often struggle to find water sources in the winter, so having fresh water will make your yard a desirable destination.

5. Plant a Bird-Friendly Garden

Planting a garden with bird-friendly plants is one of the most significant changes you can make when learning how to attract birds to your yard. Native flowers, shrubs, and trees are great choices because they will naturally attract birds that live in your area and strengthen your local ecosystem.

Birds are also drawn to bright colors (especially the color of their own species), an attraction that comes from their breeding instincts. Native species are known for their colorful flowers and berries, so they can do double duty when it comes to attracting birds.

How to Attract Birds to Your Yard in 9 Steps | Stauffers

Birds like relatively dense shrubs and trees, so consider this when deciding where to plant your new additions. Different species also like different heights and vantage points, so be sure not only to plant eye level shrubs but also low ground cover, small trees (under 15’), and taller trees (over 15’).

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The Best Bird-Friendly Plants

Not sure where to get started with your garden? Check out some of our favorite plants that attract birds.


Plant Name Offering Principal Birds Attracted
Glossy Abelia (Abelia grandiflora) Nectar Hummingbirds
Barberry (Berberis) Fruit, protection, and nectar Songbirds, sparrows
Butterfly Bush (Buddleia) Nectar Hummingbirds
Burning Bush (Euonymus alatus) Fruit, protection, and nectar Brown thrashers, cardinals, finches
Forsythia Nectar Sparrows, robins, cardinals
Daylily (Hemerocallis) Nectar Hummingbirds
Hibiscus Nectar Hummingbirds
Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) Fruit Bluebirds, brown thrushes, cedar waxwings
Honeysuckle (Lonicera) Fruit, nectar Catbirds, robins, wood thrushes
Firethorn (Pyracantha) Fruit, nectar, protection Mockingbirds, thrashers, cedar waxwings
Rose (Rosa) Nectar Catbirds, cardinals, thrashers, sparrows
Spirea Nectar Warblers, wood thrushes, robins
European Cranberry Bush (Viburnum opulus) Fruit, nectar, protection Bluebirds, robins, wood thrushes
Doublefile Viburnum (Viburnum plicatum) Fruit, nectar, protection Cedar waxwings, robins, finches
Tea Viburnum (Viburnum setigerum) Fruit, nectar, protection Cedar waxwings, purple finches



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Plant Name Offering Principal Birds Attracted
Mimosa (Albizia) Nectar Hummingbirds
Serviceberry (Amelanchier) Fruit, nectar Blue jays, cardinals, flickers
Birch (Betula) Fruit Goldfinches, warblers
Dogwood (Cornus) Fruit, nectar Thrashers, finches, robins
Apple & Crabapple (Malus) Nectar Bluebirds, flickers, hummingbirds, finches, and more
Oak (Quercus) Nectar, protection Robins, nuthatches, thrushes, grosbeaks


Evergreens & Vines

Plant Name Offering Principal Birds Attracted
Azalea Nectar, protection Hummingbirds
Trumpet Vine (Campsis Nectar Hummingbirds
Clematis Nectar Hummingbirds
Blue Holly (Ilex) Fruit, nectar, protection Waxwings, flickers, robins
Juniper (Juniperus) Fruit, nectar, protection Bluebirds, cardinals, sparrows
Honeysuckle (Lonicera) Fruit, nectar, protection Bluebirds, sparrows, goldfinches
Spruce (Picea) Fruit, nectar, protection Finches, grosbeaks, grouses, crossbills
White Pine (Pinea) Nectar, protection Blue jays, finches, mourning doves
Yew (Taxus) Nectar, protection Finches, robins, grosbeaks
Hemlock (Tsuga) Fruit, nectar, protection Robins, warblers, chickadees

6. Provide Plenty of Shelter

In addition to creating shelter with greenery, some birds (like bluebirds, sparrows, and chickadees) like the safety, warmth, and shelter of a bird box or bird house. Install your shelter on a post or tree trunk to protect from ground predators.

Make sure the entrance hole is only as large as the intended species. This prevents larger birds like hawks from getting inside and defeating the purpose of the types of bird shelters you’ve added to your yard.

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7. Offer Opportunities for Nesting

Once you’ve learned how to attract birds to your yard, you’ll need to find ways to make them stay. One of the best ways to ensure a constant stream of birds all year long is to encourage birds to build nests in your yard.

How to Attract Birds to Your Yard in 9 Steps | Stauffers

In addition to creating a welcoming environment full of bird food and shelter options, bird-friendly plants, and reliable water sources, you can provide birds with nesting materials. Simply fill an empty suet cage or old feeder with pieces of small, organic material and hang it for birds to find. Grass clippings, dried weeds and leaves, and even pet hair are all great materials for nest building. And, since they’re all organic material, they’ll decompose naturally and won’t encourage litter in your yard.

8. Learn from Your Birds

If you’re looking to learn how to attract birds to your yard, look to the birds. Every species, every bird, and every environment is different, so keep an eye on your yard’s birds, when they visit, where they spend their time, and which foods they like best. Then you can adjust your setup over time to maximize your yard’s birding potential.

9. Make it Official

Once your yard is teeming with birds, consider certifying your backyard as a Backyard Wildlife Habitat with the National Wildlife Federation. To make it official, you’ll need to follow the Certified Wildlife Habitat requirements:

  • Three different food sources (from feeders or plants)
  • One clean water source
  • Two different shelter sources (including natural and manmade)
  • Two different nesting places (including natural and manmade)

You’ll also need to employ practices from at least two of three sustainable gardening categories as designated by the NWF. For the full requirements and to get your garden certified, visit the National Wildlife Federation’s website . Be sure to get the entire family involved in the certification process so everyone can learn more about gardening, birding, and sustainability.

Get all the supplies you need to build a backyard birding haven from Stauffers of Kissel Hill . From bird seed to native plants to free advice from our experts, we have it all!