Are you enchanted by birdsong? Would you like to invite birds into your garden? When you create a space that features suitable plants and species that are native to Québec, they’ll be able to settle in and raise their young.
What are the criteria for getting Bird Garden certification?
If it meets the three criteria listed below, your Bird Garden is eligible for certification.
- Put in a diversity of plants enabling birds to protect themselves from bad weather and predators: trees, shrubs, hedges or vegetation in clumps.
- Provide a variety of food sources in all seasons (fruit, seeds) as well as a clean, shallow water source.
- Maintain your garden in a way that respects biodiversity. To see what that type of gardening involves: How to make an ecologically responsible garden.
How to make a Bird Garden
When considering making a Bird Garden, you have to think in terms of comfort and abundance. Offer a pleasant, calm and safe environment by varying the height of plants and providing camouflage areas – and always offer water, food, and perches that are out of the reach of predatory felines!
Step 1 – Prepare an inviting habitat
A varied architecture pays off! If possible, plant vegetation in tiers, creating at least three levels. Birds will land in larger trees, approach from shrubs and explore in the undergrowth. When a tree dies, remove only the dangerous parts, leaving the rest to serve as a perch.
Trees and shrubs provide birds with protection from weather conditions and predators. Opt for plants that form wide hedges and clumps, providing sufficient cover for their nests. Invaluable refuges!
Plants adapted to our climate
Choose plant species from here. Native flora, by attracting native birds, can reduce the presence of introduced species such as starlings and house sparrows. However much we may like them, the introduced species heighten the competition for resources at the expense of native, more vulnerable birds.
When autumn comes, take it easy. Leave foliage and floral stems in place. That way you’ll be providing shelter for a number of useful living organisms (insects, small mammals) and enabling birds to perch and to feast on end-of-season seeds and fruit. And that’s not all! You’ll be offering your plants better winter protection, and they’ll enrich the soil as they decompose. Nature does things right.
Visible windows, cats with bells and darkness
Limit the risks of collision with windows by making them more visible to birds. Install external screens, stickers or light curtains. Another option: install feeders, suet cages and other food sources least 3 meters from windows (birds won’t have enough flying momentum to injure themselves), or more than 6 meters from the house (giving birds enough distance to avoid the obstacle).
If your cat goes for strolls in the garden, attach a little bell to its collar. The ringing will alert the birds to the arrival of a predator and make hunting more difficult.
Light pollution disrupts the behavior of migrating birds. Turn off your garden lights at night or install a timer or motion detector; that way you’re providing light only when necessary. You can also direct your lights towards the ground and not up at the sky.
Step 2 – Create abundance
It’s well known, birds can’t get enough of plants that produce fruit and seeds. To attract them to your garden, choose edible plants, and flowers that have a particular appeal for birds.
Provide leaf litter at the base of trees: a community of insects will make their home there, work on your soil and serve as lunch for the birds. And this will provide a moment for rewarding yourself by observing bird digging behavior.
Feeders and suet cages also help foster bird biodiversity. The best time for installing them? September to May. In summer, food is abundant in the natural environment. To keep non-native birds and squirrels away, choose feeders that are inverted, weight-activated or that have short perches. You can find these adapted feeders in stores or on specialized Internet sites.
If you do decide to install feeders, make sure you maintain them throughout the winter in order to take care of the birds that stay in Québec during the cold season. Read our blog helping birds survive the winter to learn more about it.
A source of water
Ensure access to a source of clean, shallow water. Don’t have much space? A small shallow pond is ideal! In addition to offering refreshment to birds, it has the advantage of attracting amphibians.
If you’re using a bird bath, don’t forget to change the water daily in summer and to clean it regularly. It’s possible to find devices to prevent your water source from freezing in winter at specialty stores or on specialized Internet sites.
Birdhouses? Not necessarily…
Very few species use birdhouses, most birds preferring to build their own nest with their own choice of materials. Birdhouses can also boost non-native bird species. So it’s best not to have them in your garden.
Step 3 – Tend the garden in an ecologically responsible way
Follow our advice and tips for making an environmentally friendly garden.
Did you know that …
With carefully-chosen plants, you can provide a food source for birds throughout the year.
By attracting native birds, indigenous plants can reduce the presence of non-native species such as starlings and house sparrows.