Many people turn to bird feeding as a hobby not just because of the love of birds and the smile it brings into our faces but seeing birds enthusiastically feeding on our prepared treats provide other benefits to us, humans.
While it has its highs and lows, bird feeding has become a fad for many. And why not when such hobby can involve the entire family. Even children will find entertainment and learning by simply watching the birds feasting on the birdseeds. The entire family can also enjoy decorating the surroundings of the feeder to have a better garden frequented by the migratory birds in multitudes of colors.
When you decide to feed the birds, hanging a bird feeder is just the beginning. There are more work to be done including cleaning, maintaining, and even taking care of what to put under the bird feeder.
Migratory birds bring in plenty of benefits including possible new varieties of birds, because if you get lucky, they’ll drop plant variety in your backyard giving you strange but hopefully pretty flowers. However, they may bring bird flu as well so you need to be careful when handling them and the feeder.
The fun part is on how to decide what to put under the bird feeder. You can just let your creativity flow by creating a do-it-yourself garden or hire a professional landscape artist. Whichever option you are choosing, you will still be able to provide more opportunities for the birds to enjoy not just the birdseeds from the feeder but from a beautiful garden too.
Hummingbird, for example, likes to suck on nectar using their needle-like beak. Adding colorful flowers under the bird feeder will add more fun for the birds and more enjoyment for the bird watchers.
So what can you put under the bird feeders? Here are my top four ideas:
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Idea #1: Allow ground foraging
You will never know how many birds come at a time. To avoid fighting for a territory or a chance to eat the expensive birdseed, a wildflower garden under the bird feeder is your best option.
The wildflower stalks keep fallen seeds, which ground foraging birds, can easily eat while waiting for their turn at the bird feeder. The truth is, some birds are even more interested in the wildflower seeds especially during the fall season.
Since wildflowers are tough, small birds flying and landing on top of the stalks should be all right. At winter, wildflowers, even if they look dead are still great in providing nourishment and shelter for birds.
Idea #2: Bare Patch
Planting a garden below a bird feeder is ideal and adds character to your yard but other predators stealing the birdseeds such as a cat or a squirrel can use tall plants to reach the feeder. A solution to that is to carefully plant flowers around the perimeter but leave the middle patch empty. This way, there are no vertical plants, which predators can climb on to reach the feeder.
A bare patch can still be enjoyed by ground feeding birds like sparrows and juncos. To deter cats from preying on the ground feeding birds, plant low lying shrubs to hide both the bare patch and the birds that forages on the ground.
The only problem is there might not be an easy access to refill the bird feeder so creating a narrow path that can be hidden in shrubs would be a good idea. The point is to not let cats or dogs use the same pathway.
Idea #3: Friendly concrete
This may not give the ground feeding birds the feel of the natural environment but it will be easier for you to clean the surface later. Some call it bird patio. The procedure:
- Create a circular or square form on the ground just below the bird feeder.
- Pour in concrete and let it dry. If you wish, you can add smooth river stones or rocks for that beautiful finish.
- To protect the ground feeders on the ground, put potted plants around the form or try to grow some taller shrubs around it.
- Make a stone pathway reaching the feeder for you to use to fill up when it gets emptied.
This idea is a more permanent version of the idea explained in number 2. The most important thing is detailing the work that will allow peaceful feeding of the birds.
Idea #4: Plant low growing plants right under it
Grass are great not only for the birds but for your garden in general. Ground foraging birds will also enjoy the feel of grass on their feet while feeding. For the photographers, colorful birds like hummingbirds and pigeons will create a beautiful display of colors.
There is no limit as to what you can put under a bird feeder. Growing low shrubs is also possible as long as there is at least 4-7 feet distance between the height of the shrubs and the base of the bird feeder. To be able to make sure predators like cats, dogs and squirrels will not get into the feeder, tie a string to keep track of the distance.
Taking care of the bird feeder requires plenty of patience, responsibility and generosity. One’s passion to provide food and shelter to the birds especially during the winter months will also mean taking care of the garden where the feeder is.
Feeding the birds is undoubtedly a satisfying and fun hobby. Making improvements in your garden including planning and designing what to put under the feeder does not only make feeding fun for the birds but for the bird watchers too!