5 Backyard Birding Tips

Bringing nature to your neighborhood

Bird watching has become increasingly popular, and is a great way to relax and enjoy the outdoors. There are many outstanding birding opportunities in the southwest. New Mexico alone boasts 9 National Wildlife Refuges, 41 State Wildlife Areas, and 34 State Parks, not to mention numerous National Parks, Forests and other public lands. However, the most overlooked birding spot, may be your own back yard.

Attracting birds to your home isn’t difficult. Even people with the smallest yards can provide food, habitat, and water to attract multiple species. Follow the tips listed below to increase your backyard visitors.

1. Put out bird feeders

Just like most animals, the way to a bird’s heart is through their stomach. The number one way to bring in birds is to put out some good vittles. Feeders come in many shapes and sizes and different foods attract different birds. Do your research and experiment with various feeders to see what works best for your location. Also, don’t be impatient. It may take a while for birds to find your feeder. Once they do, they will come back as long as you keep it filled.

2. Provide a source of water

Fountains, ponds, birdbaths and other water features are a great attractant for birds, especially in our arid climate. Water features can be as big or little as you like, just make sure you maintain them and don’t let them become stagnant lest you end up with mosquitoes.

3. Build a bird house

Photo from Pxhere.com used under CC Licence 0.0

Most birds build their nests in trees, bushes, or on the eaves of your house. However, putting out bird houses can be a great way to attract cavity nesting species such as blue birds, wrens, and martins.

4. Plant native species

As lovely as they are, perfectly mowed lawns with nothing but green grass, don’t provide much habitat for birds. If you really want to attract some feathered friends, consider planting native shrubs, trees, and flowering plants to help attract them. These plants provide food and shelter for bird species and you may even have some take up residence.

5. Keep your pets under control

Photo from Virginia State Parks Flickr page used through Creative Commons License 2.0

Most nature lovers, are animal lovers. Its not uncommon for birders to also have domesticated pets. Unfortunately, letting your pets run free, especially cats, can have a detrimental impact on your backyard birding experience. Domestic and feral cats can have a tremendously negative affect on songbird populations. If you want to have birds in your yard, make sure you keep your cats under control.

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