Wildlife-Friendly Yard Accessories
Easy garden upgrades that welcome birds to your yard
A successful bird habitat requires water, supplemental feeders (especially in the winter when food sources are low), and nesting and cover sites. Even if you don't have the time and space to put down roots for a full habitat garden, these 11 wildlife friendly accessories are worthy, bird-attracting features for any yard.
In this Audubon-approved design, recycled plastic fashioned into faux lumber creates an attractive feeder that is tree-friendly and easy to clean. Place your feeder where you can readily access it, and the hinged lid makes for a sturdy, easy-to-fill unit that will be ready for birds no matter the weather.
About $75; Woodlink/Audubon
This handsome wren house is constructed of hand-oiled mahogany. Not to worry though: These houses are made with lumber-industry scrap wood. Detailed construction makes this a natural-looking addition to your healthy yard. It features a rear hanging loop, but consider mounting this house on a pole with a baffle, rather than a wooden post as shown. As the name of this house indicates, the opening size of this particular structure accommodates wrens. If you'd like to attract a particular type of bird, make sure the house opening is the appropriate size.
About $40; Heartwood
If squirrels are invading your birdfeeders, you might consider giving them feeders of their own, filled with corn kernels and whole peanuts. Or, install a feeder like this one, which features a built-in baffle, a plastic skirt shield protecting seed access ports. This squirrel-safe item also includes a weight-activated shutoff mechanism that blocks seed access ports if a squirrel gets hold of the feeder perch. With all of these security features, you can hang this feeder anywhere.
About $30; Woodstream
Thanks to an insulated chamber with a cover designed to draw warmth from the sun, this sipper makes drinking water available to backyard birds in temperatures as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit. The durable all-season unit comes with a mounting bracket for optimal placement. It can also rest on any flat surface.
About $30; Solar Sippers
This convertible feeder can be transformed into a bath; just remove the cap and fill it with water. Metal attracts birds to yards, but overheated metal can be dangerous to birds. This model shields birds from hot metal with a rubbery rim around the circumference of the dish. Keep in mind that metal and reflective objects attract not only birds but squirrels, too. Give special consideration to the placement of metal-accented yard accessories to prevent squirrels' access, and provide added security with a baffle affixed to the feeder pole.
About $125; NYBG Shop
Butterflies prefer still ponds, but moving water is for the birds. Keeping your birdbath clean and the water moving will prevent algae growth, mosquito breeding, and the transmission of disease. Consider a soy-based cleaner, and install this water-agitating device to keep water fresh. This unit is battery-operated and will run continuously for up to two months.
About $23; Allied Precision
According to the Audubon Society, 300 species of hummingbirds are found exclusively in the Americas. Draw some of them to your yard with this heavy-duty nectar feeder. The sturdy unit can accommodate larger nectar-loving birds, like orioles and grosbeaks, too. Its shiny copper base and cap, along with brightly colored feeding flower dispensers, make it easy for birds to spot. The clear glass tube lets you know when it's time to refill.
A sugar-water solution works as a nectar supplement, but you can also purchase mixes like Ultimate Blend Hummingbird Nectar. If ants become a problem at your nectar feeder, consider attaching an ant moat (inset) to the top of hanging feeders and the bottom of pole-mounted ones, add water, and the moat will trap insects before they can get into the feeder.
Since the idea behind bird-friendly habitat gardening is to recreate forest structure, kitschy accessories won't easily blend in. This sand-coated bath could easily be mistaken for a naturally-occurring depression in the ground, but it features a concealed, adjustable heating element. In winter, when unfrozen drinking water is limited, a heated bath will be popular among local and passing birds.
About $50; Farm Innovators
Particularly in areas with declining bird populations, it's important to monitor your birdhouses and feeders to ensure they are not predator accessible. But it's also just a whole lot of fun to spy on your fine feathered friends. Take your birdwatching to the next level with this monitoring system. It pushes a real-time, color feed from inside the birdhouse to your television or computer. Infrared lights activate at night for after-dark viewing. Images and sound can be recorded.
The Hawk Eye Nature Cam (inset) comes with the Color Video Birdhouse, but it's also sold separately to be installed in your existing birdhouses and beside feeders.
About $130 for Color Video Birdhouse and about $70 for Nature Cam; Bird Spy Cam