Jennifer Houssian of Wild Birds Unlimited shows off a squirrel-proof feeder.

Langley Home and Garden: Coaxing birds to the backyard can be easy, fun

To encourage birds to visit the yard, use different approaches for different species.

With spring-like weather, some homeowners are looking to attract more wild birds.

Adding birdfeeders or nesting boxes can bring some birds, but different types of feed and feeders will bring different types of birds, advised Jennifer Houssian, manager of the Wild Birds Unlimited in Langley. For example, nyjer seed attracts small birds like finches and chickadees. Mealworms appeal to insect-eaters, while hummingbirds need nectar feeders.

When putting out food, keeping away pests can be as important as attracting birds.

Using hulled seeds can keep an area clean and help avoid attracting rats and squirrels to raid a feeder.

Don’t scatter feed on the ground, Houssian said.

“You just want to be as tidy as you can,” Houssian said.

There are a number of feeders on the market that are designed to keep squirrels away from the feed, from pole designs that squirrels can’t climb to feeders that close up when a squirrel gets on top, sealing the food in. Birds are too light to set them off.

There are also hot pepper products that make seeds too spicy for mammals.

“Birds do not taste the heat,” said Houssian.

When it comes to areas with bears, the only thing you can do is keep the feeder out of reach.

“Generally a pulley system is going to work the best for any area with bears,” Houssian said.

Hummingbirds need nectar made from one part sugar and four parts water – any sweeter can damage the small birds’ kidneys.

Plain white sugar is best. Honey can carry bacteria, while organic sugar can contain molasses.

The hummingbird season is just starting and runs until August. The local species are the Anna’s hummingbird and the rufous hummingbird.

Chickadees and wrens are the most likely to take up residence if you put out nesting boxes.

Swallows will make their homes in old barns and similar buildings, while juncos will nest anywhere – including in hanging flower baskets.

To see more predatory birds like hawks and owls, you need a lot of land as they are hunters.

“Habitat is the number one thing,” said Houssian.

Prey like rabbits, mice, and in the case of Cooper’s hawks, other birds are needed to attract raptors.

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