How to make your garden more bird-friendly

Last Updated: 
August 28, 2008

CORVALLIS - There are 486 bird species that have been identified in Oregon, and more than 250 of those species breed and rear their young in the state. Many of these species build their nests in trees, shrubs, vines or ground cover.

To help provide better natural nesting habitat for birds, Dan Edge, wildlife biologist with the Oregon State University Extension Service offers some recommendations to help home gardeners attract and foster birds:

  • Provide a variety of trees, shrubs, hedges and vines in your yard. Native plants are the best habitat for birds. Woody plants with thorns, such as roses or hawthorn are helpful to birds because they provide refuge from predators, such as housecats.

  • Prune with birds' activities in mind. Time your pruning so it happens either before or just after the nesting season. Provide perching branches that spread upwards at 70-degree angles. Hedges should be thin enough to allow room for nests and to allow the birds to escape if predators threaten them.
  • Provide nesting materials such as straw, human hair, pieces of string, moss, rootlets, twigs, feathers, cotton and mud. These materials can be hung from trees in the net bags in which citrus fruits, potatoes or onions are sold in.
  • Plant seed-producing flowers such as aster, blanket flower, cone flower, sunflowers, black-eyed Susans, California poppies, goldenrod, marigolds, phlox, salvias and zinnias. Dandelions and thistles produce good seeds for birds too.
  • Share your wealth of fruit. Leave one or more fruiting trees or shrubs unprotected from birds.
Author: Carol Savonen
Source: Dan Edge