Garden Design to Attract Birds

The Plant a Seed & See What Grows Foundation recently partnered with NatureKidsBC and Le Nichoir to put together a virtual tour of a wild bird conservation centre. You and your family can join us on the experience right here. Of course, many households would like a more hands-on opportunity to get up close and personal with feathered friends that are native to their neck of Canada. If you count yourself among this lot, inviting them into your own garden is a great way to make it happen. Not only will their songs provide a sweet soundtrack to your summer, they are magnificent pollinators that will help your garden and community thrive. They also provide great subject matter for your kids’ outdoor learning experiences on the home-front. But aside from hanging a few feeders from your porch, are there other steps to take to attract birds to your home? Yes indeed, through the magic of thoughtful garden design.

Garden Design Additions That Will Help Attract Birds to Your Yard

Grow Biological Diversity in Your Garden

Excuse the pun, but the chicken or egg dilemma is amiss here. As pollinators, birds are essential to growing a lush and flowering garden. Concomitantly, introducing flowering plants into your garden will attract them, so we encourage you to take the first step.

Biological diversity is the key to creating not only an inviting environment, it will ensure that it’s a sustainable one. For starters, you will want to exclude invasive plant species, as they are detrimental to biodiversity. It’s native plant species that provide nutrients that birds in your region require for survival, and these varieties are far more palatable to their precious beaks. Carefully select plants that are natural to your geography. You can view all plant species native to your province by visiting this resource. View more on how to promote biodiversity in your garden.

Birds flock to places that have the amenities they need not only for their health and wellness, but for their enjoyment. A bird bath provides for both. However, filling a molded terra cotta with water and tilting it over for refilling every few weeks isn’t enough. Just like your household requires fresh and filtered water, so do birds. To create a healthier and more inviting bird bath, choose one with a fountain feature that will rotate the water and keep it fresh. Moving water also attract birds more quickly because the motion catches their eye, and they can hear frequent drips, sprinkles, and splashes. If a fountain isn’t practical, there are devices you can add to your bird bath. Birding specialty shops carry small solar-powered dripper kits, water wigglers, and misters that can be placed on, within, or near baths to provide the desired effect. If your family is into DIY projects, you can hang a decorated jug of water with a tiny hole in the bottom over the bird bath.

Install a Bird Bath

For added comfort, place the bird bath in the part of your garden that gets the most natural shade, preferably near bushes, tall plants, and trees. In addition, install the bath high above ground so that birds are not susceptible to predators (including neighborhood cats) while bathing and drinking.

Thoughtful Feeding Stations

Just like a pantry full of good food attracts your kids’ friends over snacks, gardens that provide added nourishment are more often frequented by birds. 

The Canadian Wildlife Federation (CWF) recommends high energy oil seeds that help local birds survive in a variety of outdoor conditions year round. For adequate diversity choose blends made up mainly of seeds like niger, sunflower and canola. This is not only important for required nourishment, as seed variety (shapes, sizes, colours, and tastes) makes breakfast, lunch, and dinner more interesting for them. Your garden will quickly become the talk of the town amongst the avifauna kingdom!

Variety of types of feeders is also important. The CWF suggests a combination of ground, platform, hopper, and tube feeders – all of which can be found at your local pet store or birding speciality shop. Gather together as a family to do a little extra research on which types of feeders are preferred by birds in your region. From there you can have some fun selecting ones that are not only inviting to them, but visually pleasing to you.

Like with bird baths, placement within your garden space is important. Feeders should be near trees, shrubs, and tall plants. This provides them with shade and shelter, plus it’s wise for “waste management”, as their droppings will serve as a natural fertilizer.


We hope you enjoyed our tips to attracting birds to your household garden. View more about our Foundation’s work here, and find out how you can get involved.