It’s interesting that some animals are able to survive and live in close proximity to developed areas. You’ll find squirrels, possums and raccoons living in our larges cities, for example. While other wild animals cannot coexist with we humans as we change what was a suitable wild habitat into a developed neighborhood, town or city. Many bird species can do well around our home grounds if provided the right conditions. To encourage birds around your home, provide them food, water and some kind of cover.
Some birds such as cardinals, finches and sparrows, are seed eaters and will eat things like cracked corn, millet and sunflower seeds. Other birds are fruit eaters and will eat things like raisins, chopped fruit and apples. These birds include jays, mockingbirds, orioles and robins.
Most bird experts suggest when feeding birds, it’s better to provide the food in containers rather than broadcast the food on the ground. Food that stays on the ground is easily contaminated, and when many birds are feeding in the same area, there is a danger that disease could spread among the bird families. Always place the bird food in clean containers. Also, birds that are busily eating food from the ground are easier targets for nearby cats.
Some wildlife experts caution that birds can quickly become dependent on you. They suggest to not attract more birds than the area or your budget can support. Feeding stations tend to make birds lazy. As a result, if the food supply is suddenly cut off, many birds may starve.
You also need a source of water for your birds. This can be a simple inexpensive birdbath made from a trashcan lid or something more fancy. The important thing is that the water is fresh and clean.
Providing cover for visiting birds is another consideration. The cover can be made available by the use of native plants or it may be a birdhouse. Plant covers have the advantages of providing food as well as cover. Many bird experts suggest when using birdhouses, usually only three or four per acre is enough. Some territorial birds don’t like another family near them. For nesting puposes, keep the house somewhat out of sight.
There are many native plants that will attract birds. Oaks, including live oak, attract woodpeckers, blue jays and brown thrashers. Holly, dogwood and sumac will attract many kinds of birds, including cardinals, robins, bluebirds and mockingbirds. Sunflowers are another good plant to include because sunflower seeds are used by at least 46 bird species. Red cedar attracts birds of many species. There are many other native plants to consider.
For additional information on attracting birds you can contact your local Audubon Society at http://www.audubon.org or visit http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/TOPIC_Wildlife, which is a University of Florida Extension website with a wealth of publications on Florida wildlife.