Attracting Birds to Your Yard

With hundreds of species easily visible in the Texas Hill Country, many backyard birders become dissatisfied when only a few common backyard birds visit their feeders on a regular basis. Fortunately, attracting new birds to your backyard is as simple as providing them with what they require: food, water, shelter, and nesting sites. By incorporating new features into your yard that address these needs, you’ll soon discover a plethora of new and unexpected species nearby.

To attract birds to your yard, you must provide water, food and shelter. To entice them to stay, you must also provide a fourth thing – a safe place to raise their young. Here are some tips:


Although not all birds will visit feeders, they all require water. While a simple birdbath is an easy way to entice birds with water, upgrading or adding new water features will bring in new bird species to your yard.

  • Use birdbaths to supply water for bathing and drinking.
    • The water should be less than two inches deep (so the birds can bathe comfortably) and must be kept clean.
    • Birdbaths should be placed in a shady location if possible; adding a source of running water (such as a dripping hose or recirculating pump) will make the water more appealing.
  • Shallow dishes filled with water can be substituted for traditional birdbaths.
    • Use large plastic plant saucers, or other sturdy shallow objects.
    • Placing the water source on a pedestal or stump or hanging it from tree limb will give birds a better view of predators.


Introducing new food sources to your backyard is one of the simplest and most effective ways to attract new birds. A basic seed mix is a good place to start when it comes to backyard birding, but more specialized foods will attract a wider variety of species.

  • To provide an ample supply of “bird food,” plant a wide variety of flowering and fruit-bearing plants, as well as varieties that attract insects (a great protein source for birds). Oaks, hickories and maples are all good choices.


Birds prefer to feel safe and secure, and if they are unsure about the safety of a location, they will avoid visiting it on a regular basis. By providing more shelter in your backyard, you can entice even the most evasive birds to visit.

  • Appropriate shelter for birds doesn’t necessarily mean a birdhouse; birds will nest in most trees that provide protection from harsh weather and predators (such as hawks and cats).
    • Evergreens and dense shrubs in your garden are ideal choices for good shelter.

Nesting Sites

Observing the mating and nesting behavior patterns of their favorite backyard species is a wonderful experience for backyard birders. Providing suitable nesting areas increases the likelihood that new birds will find your yard appealing.

  • Birdhouses provide both shelter and nesting sites.
    • Different species have different housing requirements, but you can find houses for everything from orioles to owls.
    • Make sure the house is weather-resistant and well-ventilated, and place it with the entrance hole facing away from prevailing winds.
    • Be sure to clean it out after each nesting season.

By following these simple guidelines, you can provide a new home for a wide variety of beautiful birds. To further enhance your yard, consider planting a hummingbird or butterfly garden.

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