Across North America, backyard bird enthusiasts have been asked to remove their feeders to help slow the spread of several avian diseases. It’s a small price to pay to help the birds, but nonetheless disappointing to everyone who enjoys having tiny winged visitors throughout the drab days of winter and soggy days of early spring.
One long-term solution to the problem is to build habitat for all wildlife in your yard so the birds have a reason to visit regardless of your feeder’s status. Adding food, water, and shelter will bring the birds in year-round. This includes projects like planting seed- and fruit-bearing plants (and leaving the seed heads up until well into spring), creating robust habitat for invertebrates which are an important food source for many birds, and developing thick cover for birds to hide from predators or to get out of the weather.
Here are a few resources to get you started:
- “How to Make Your Yard Bird-Friendly,” from Audubon Society (article)
- “Nesting and Overwintering Habitat for Pollinators and Other Beneficial Insects,” from Xerces Society (free PDF)
- “Habitat Assessment Guide for Pollinators in Yards, Gardens, and Parks,” from Xerces Society (free PDF)
- Attracting Native Pollinators, from Xerces Society (book)
- 100 Plants to Feed the Bees, from Xerces Society (book)
- Landscaping for Wildlife in the Pacific Northwest, by Russell Link (book)
- Pollinators of Native Plants, by Heather Holm (book)