Many gardeners are avid birders as well and this is no coincidence. The natural beauty of the garden can be accented with beautiful birds, and often it is your garden that attracts them to your yard. Birds help control insect populations, pollinate flowers and disperse seeds making them important to a healthy environment. It helps to have a great feeder full of seed that they enjoy in your yard, but there are other necessities for them to live happily in your garden.
The first of these is water. Adding a decorative bird bath to your garden will add aesthetics as well as be a great source for the birds to drink from and cool off in during the hot summer days. In the colder winter months, an open bird bath, one that's been de-iced, can attract more birds than your feeder. Keeping your bird bath in a sunny location will help prevent ice from forming, but they also have heaters you can use to keep the bird feeder from freezing over.
Birds also need shelter. Many birds do not migrate, so they need an area to roost in during the winter. Granted, you can buy a nice birdhouse or roost box and add it to a tree in your yard, but natural shelters will do just fine. Thick shrubs or hedges offer protection for birds from predators and a place to call home during the cold winter nights. Dead trees, that are not a danger to you or your home, should be left standing. These create great shelters for woodpeckers and other birds raising their young or hiding from storms.
There are also a lot of things you can do in your garden to help attract birds, especially during the winter months. During your fall clean up, keep dead seed heads on flowers rather than cutting them back. These give food to beautiful songbirds who will be sure to make a pit stop. Keep some of the fallen leaves in your garden as mulch. Here birds will be able to find insects and use this as nest materials in the spring. A small brush pile in the corner of your yard can be used for this as well, and even makes a great winter retreat for ground-dwelling birds.
Finally, what you plant in your garden can help keep birds around. Planting trees and shrubs that contain berries or fruit throughout different season can help keep birds coming back to your yard. Having plants like American holly and juniper in your yard throughout the winter will keep birds happy, as they provide berries throughout the winter. Also, planting native plants will help give the birds the various nutrients that they need. There's a reason these plants and these birds are in our area together.
With a little bit of an effort, planning what you plant, buying great feeders and bird baths, you can enjoy the company of birds throughout the year in your garden. And the birds will thank you for the effort, giving you insect control and helping to take care of your garden, their home.