Nothing gives your yard that peaceful sanctuary feel like songbirds chirping and fluttering. Here in North Central Florida, you can attract birds of all kinds to your yard with a few simple gardening and landscaping techniques.
For some of our clients, we know that quiet, electric lawn care can be a big plus because it’s less hostile to small birds. But that’s just a start!
And why live in Florida if you’re not going to enjoy the wildlife?
For insights on how to attract birds to North Central Florida properties, we reached out to our friends at Gainesville’s Wild Birds Unlimited. Co-owner Bubba Scales offered some tips and also let us know what types of birds to keep our eyes out for over the next several months.
Q&A with Guest Expert Bubba Scales of Wild Birds Unlimited
Are there landscaping techniques that can help attract birds?
You’ll want to choose plants and shrubs that provide some cover for birds to safely visit your feeders and birdbaths. Songbirds are vulnerable to predation by bigger birds—especially when they’re wet from a birdbath. They need time and protection to shake off and dry.
Providing some cover means you’ll not only increase the likelihood of seeing more birds safely visiting your yard, but you may also attract a greater variety of birds.
To provide this cover, look to low-growing trees and dense shrubs. Native fruit- or nut-producing plants are ideal. Make sure to keep your cover near your feeders but not so close that squirrels can use it to jump to the feeders.
This is less of a priority, but residents might also consider using shrubs and plants around the boundaries of their properties to cut down on noise from the road, which will help make the area more appealing to small birds.
What plants can help attract birds to North Central FL yards?
A diversity of food-bearing plants in the herbaceous, shrub, and canopy levels should be every birdwatcher’s priority. Some plants you can use to provide natural sources of food to birds include East Palatka Holly and Callicarpa (also called beautyberry).
You can also choose some nectar-bearing plants that will attract hummingbirds—they can be even more successful than bird feeders. Some options include coral honeysuckle and native red salvia.
What other additions to the yard can help attract birds?
Installing a nesting box is one of the best ways to make your yard bird-friendly. Nesting boxes allow you to help birds raise their families right inside of your own yard, which provides you with more and different viewing and enjoyment opportunities.
Birdbaths will also open up the diversity of birds that come to your yard. During migration, with so much moving through the canopy, people tend to see species at birdbaths that they don’t see at feeders.
What types of birds should North Central FL residents be on the lookout for this spring and summer?
We’re getting into migration now, so it’s a really exciting time. It’s the final push for chipping sparrows and American goldfinches before they migrate north, so there’s been lots of activity in the past couple months.
We’ve had about a half dozen people reporting Indigo buntings, and that’s going to continue. Other songbirds are migrating and that will peak in mid to late April.
The Northern cardinal, the tufted titmouse, the Carolina chickadee, and a handful of others become the dominant species at feeders after migration has ended and breeding season is in full swing. Those are the species that spend all summer at feeders.
During the summer, also look out for downy and red-bellied woodpeckers, mourning doves and ruby-throated hummingbirds.