There are a lot of reasons not to feed the birds using bird feeders and packaged seed.  The recent outbreak of mystery bird disease among songbirds, especially Pine Siskins and goldfinches, has claimed the lives of untold numbers of the birds. To slow the spread of the disease, which some say could be caused by salmonella bacteria, some state wildlife agencies and wildlife rehabilitation groups are encouraging people to take down their bird feeders and baths.

So how do you keep the birds but ditch the feeders and birdbaths?  Try a new strategy to attract and support birds by creating habitat in your garden space, whether it’s a balcony or backyard you can grow native plants and cultivate the food, nesting materials and shelter wild birds need to survive.

Plant some bird shelter says shelter is as critically important as food and water. Birds need a safe place to rest, preen their feathers, and escape when predators are present. Each night, birds settle into dense shrubs or coniferous trees to sleep. Providing these refuges in your yard is another way to attract birds. 

We like:

  • Winterberry
  • Holly
  • Bayberry 
  • Dogwood
  • Spruce

What to plant to help birds

A mix of native plantings will draw a variety of bird species to your yard. Native trees and shrubs that produce berries, provide fruit in summer, fall and winter can make a huge difference. Growing native plants in your yard can be the best way to attract many species of birds to the area.

We like:

  • Serviceberry
  • Cherries
  • Blueberry
  • Crabapple
  • Highbush cranberry 


Are you looking to attract hummingbirds? Try native species like:

  • Wild bergamot
  • Red columbine
  • Trumpet Honeysuckle
  • Cardinal Flower
  • Spotted Impatiens
  • Canada Lily
  • Native Azaleas
  • Rhododendron

Skip the birdfeeders

By providing native plants, fresh water, and sheltering shrubs and trees, you can attract birds to your yard without needing to use bird feeders. Most bird feeders can spread illness, draw the unwanted attention of squirrels, chipmunks, mice, rats, and even black bears. Keep these unwanted guests out by creating a natural habitat for the birds.

Not sure what will work best but know you want to help support local wildlife or looking for help with your garden ideas? Contact us to help build out your bird friendly garden or visit your local nursery or garden center for help.

More reading, Feeding Birds: An Eco-Gardener’s Approach