|Northern Cardinal perching on an Aronia shrub|
What can you do to get birds to visit your yard and garden? Plant trees and shrubs! Specifically, evergreen trees and fruit-bearing shrubs.
Bird feeders and bird baths attract birds, but you'll have fewer birds without trees and shrubs for birds to perch, rest and hide from predators.
This makes sense when you think about it. And recent research showed that yards with more evergreen trees and fruit-bearing shrubs had more native bird species.
Researchers studied 25 sites near Chicago to record bird and plant species, and they surveyed over 900 residents about plants types in their yard and whether or not they bird feeders. The researchers found little connection between the number of bird feeders and the number of bird species present. But, those yards with evergreen trees and fruit-bearing shrubs had a much higher number of bird species.
|Northern Cardinal resting in a Western Cedar tree.|
We've found that feeders placed near evergreen trees and shrubs attract a lot more birds than feeders in more open areas. They feel safer and can quickly escape from predators like hawks. And they have places to perch and scope out the area before they visit the feeder.
|Northern Cardinals at a busy bird feeder near a Cedar Tree.|
Evergreen trees also offer shelter from the weather. When it's cold and windy, the birds will perch in the evergreens where it's sheltered from the wind.
|Bluejay perching on a snow-covered Cedar branch.|
The variety of birds in our gardens really increased when we planted fruit-bearing shrubs. The flowers in the spring bring in insects that the birds eat. And the fruits attract all kinds of birds that would never visit a seed feeder, such as Cedar Waxwings.
|Cedar Waxwings eating Winterberry fruit.|
Conifers also add alot of interest in the winter when there's little color in the garden. And their vertical structure provides focal points and frames your garden.
|A variety of evergreen trees and shrubs add interest to the winter garden.|
Fruiting shrubs are beautiful in bloom and often the fruit can be shared with the birds, if you can get to it before they do!
|Cedar Waxwings eating Amelanchier (Juneberry) fruit.|
Both conifers and fruiting shrubs also offer nesting and roosting places for birds. You may see more bird species during spring and fall migration that will rest in your garden during the migratory season.
So, if you've put out bird feeders into an open backyard and haven't had many birds visit, it may be time to plant some evergreens and some fruit-bearing shrubs!