Spring is a wonderful time to attract birds to your yard.
In addition to the bird species that reside in Central Florida year-round, spring migratory birds are looking for stop-over spots that provide food and shelter. By making a few small adjustments, you can welcome several species of birds to your yard this spring.
Add a water source
A simple and effective way to attract birds is by adding a water source in your yard. These can be elaborate, like a pond or waterfall, or simple like a birdbath or water dish. To minimize the risk of mosquitoes, add a small moving water feature such as a dripper or a small fountain and change water regularly.
Provide a diverse landscape
Birds need shelter for coverage and to raise their young. However, different bird species have different preferences for shelter. By providing a variety of groundcover, shrubs, trees, rocks, and logs, all birds can find a home they will love.
Select native plants
Although bird feeders can help supplement a bird's diet, birds mostly rely on plants and insects for their meals. Think of birdseed as a snack. Native plants are the best choice for providing birds with nuts, seeds, berries, and nectar. Native birds evolved with native plants, so be sure to include them in your backyard habitat. Use the native plant guide at www.fnps.org to find native plants that birds will love.
What about bird feeders?
If you are interested in supplementing with bird feeders, remember to properly care for and clean the feeders. If not properly maintained, bird feeders can harbor mold and bacteria that can make birds sick. Clean feeders once every one to two weeks, or more regularly in wet or humid weather with a dilute bleach solution (1 part bleach to 10 parts water). For nectar feeders, clean with soap and hot water. Allow feeders to completely dry before adding more bird feed.
For more information visit http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/osceola/ and register for an upcoming Backyard Birding class.
Krista Stump is a natural resources agent with the UF/IFAS Extension Osceola County.