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© Lars Johansson - Fotolia

It's always nice to see birds enjoying your garden and fall is a great time to actually bring birds into the garden so you can help them out. It will make life a lot easier for them if you grow plants they can enjoy.

The type of birds you will see as it gets colder will change. Some birds migrate and others just move around and change position locally. Others just tough out the winter weather right where they are.

This fall, attract birds to your garden by giving them the four main things they need: food, water, shelter and a nesting site. Bird feeders, birdbaths and birdhouses can all play an important role.

Fall is a time to load up for birds. It's very much like an all-you-can-eat buffet. Growing seeds and fruit, and cultivating bug populations in your garden, will help your local birds get ready for the winter months. Feeding the birds in fall will also attract unique migrating species to your yard, giving you the opportunity to see birds that might not normally be found nearby.

Seed or suet

Bird feeders can be a huge help to birds in the cooler months. Many gardeners and homeowners provide supplemental food, especially during the colder months, in the form of man-made bird feeders filled with seed or suet.

Just make sure if you use your bird feeders all year that you also clean them out so you don't transfer any bird diseases.

The best foods for fall birds are full of energy-rich oil and carbohydrates that can help the birds build fat reserves as fuel for long flights. Fill your feeders with:

  • Sunflower seeds;
  • Suet;
  • Peanuts and peanut butter;
  • Cracked corn; and 
  • Hummingbird nectar (if you have hummingbirds)

You may notice your mulch is getting munched on as well. Winter mulch seems to be a favorite. There are a lot of bugs in winter mulch and birds sometimes like bugs more then seeds. Once you’ve put your garden to bed for the cooler months, add fallen leaves or straw to your garden beds to keep them warmer in the winter and add nutrients to the garden.

Birds need water in the winter too, not just in the summer when it's hot. They need to be able to safely get to the water for drinking and bathing. A filled birdbath is the easiest water source for thirsty birds. You can set up a bird bath at ground level on the south side of your house or on a fence or hedge that faces south. The ground-level bird baths stay unfrozen longer than above-ground ones.

You will see more birds if you have a shelter like trees and shrubs where they can hide and stay warm.. Tall grasses, evergreen trees and wooden birdhouses are but a few examples of nesting spaces birds prefer.

Your local birds will thank you by being present in your yard when they see how well prepared you are for them.


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