Blue Mounds Wisconsin 1970 at Cave of the Mounds

Steps to Take to Make Your Garden Bird Friendly!

March 2023

Written by Eliza

Birds are a cornerstone of a healthy natural environment. Since prehistory humans have relied on birds for food and the continuation of a healthy natural environment. But have you ever thought about what we can do to help them on a daily basis? The biggest aid we can provide for our avian friends is creating a healthy and natural environment for them. We can do this by placing bird feeders, providing bird baths, and planting native plants in our garden spaces. 

Bird Feeders

Placing bird feeders in your yard or porch is a great way to interact with native wildlife but it also provides huge benefits to the bird populations in your area. Here are some quick tips on the type of feeders you should use, what you should place in them, and ways to prevent the spread of harmful diseases.

Red headed woodpecker at Cave of the Mounds

Did you know that specific species of birds are drawn toward specific feeders? Woodpeckers like suet feeders while black-capped chickadees enjoy seed feeders. The seeds themselves can draw in different kinds of birds. Please note you should only use suet feeders during colder months. Suet can go bad and melt, getting on birds’ feathers and ruining their waterproof coats. Black-Oil Sunflower seeds are generally the safest bet to entice a wide variety of birds to your feeder. However, safflower, thistle, and canary seeds can also draw in some birds. 

Just like the plates humans eat on, birds need a clean eating space. Taking your bird feeder down and washing it with a little bit of dish soap will help prevent the spread of deadly diseases.

Robin Bird on a rock

Bird Baths

While a source of water is important all year long for birds, it is especially important during the winter months. Many regular water sources that our avian friends use during spring and summer have frozen over or been put away by late fall and winter. Birds can use up their very important reservoir of calories and body heat looking for and in some cases melting sources of water. Birders and nature enthusiasts can help by providing a bird bath.

Native Plants

Planting native plants in your garden can provide excellent habitat for birds, but also for you! Your local and migratory birds can enjoy a variety of seeds and bugs (that feed off of the plants.) Recent research shows that native oaks support more than 550 different species of butterflies and moths alone, while the non-native ginkgo tree supports just 5. Migratory and native birds alike will eat over 5,000 of these insects to their young. Using native plants versus non-native plants also helps birds combat climate change by increasing their ever-shrinking natural habitat. 

Photo of a Path through our prairie restoration project with a Barn in the background like a secret garden in the Driftless Area

But how does planting native plants help you? According to the Environmental Protection Agency, between 30 and 60 percent of freshwater in America is currently being used to water lawns for non-native species. Now compare that to the fact that most species native to your area are made to survive in that specific environment, with little to no extra water. With scientists predicting major periods of droughts to come, a switch to native plants can save you a ton! 


As we get closer to the planting season, make sure to keep your friendly neighborhood birds in mind. Start with a few of our bird-friendly tips and watch them flock to your garden. Happy birding friends!