I really enjoy bird watching. About three years ago we lived in Cheyenne, Wyoming, right along the central major flyway. I was fascinated with the intriguing variety of species that came through our backyard. We now live in the middle of the woods and several hours from a major flyway. But, we have a new variety of species that we didn’t have before.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird,
Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Photo © Kevin Shank.


Birds play a tremendous part in God’s fantastic creation. One of the biggest things these feathered friends do is eat bugs. They do this by snatching bugs like mosquitoes or flies out of the air, or by pecking into a rotten log or tree to get a termite or grub. Some eat bugs, some eat fish, some eat dead animals, and others eat a variety of seeds.

You can find birds almost anywhere on the globe. But how do you attract these critters into your backyard? And how do you watch them, since they’re skittish when you get close? Well, first off, here are some pointers for attracting them.


Feeders. There are a variety of styles you can use, and styles play a role in the species you attract.

  • House feeders
  • Tube feeders
  • Platform feeders
  • Suet feeders
  • Nectar feeders

Food. There are several kinds of seed you can choose from. Most commonly used seeds:

  • Sunflower seed
  • Niger (thistle seed)
  • Cracked corn
  • Mixed seed

Some birds like orioles, tanagers, and hummingbirds have a “sweet tooth.”

For tanagers and orioles:

  • Oranges
  • Jellies
  • (Put those on a plate.)

For hummingbirds and orioles:

  • Sugar water (Put that in your nectar feeder.)

Many birds love suet. You can buy this in blocks. Birds eat this stuff year around, but it’s good for energy in the winter.
(Put that in your suet feeder.)

Bird Bath. There are several kinds of baths also.

  • Hanging bath
  • Pedestal bath
  • Ground bath
This Yellow-rumped Warbler is getting a bath in a water garden outside my Nature Friend office window. Photo © Kevin Shank.

Plant. Plant a hedge, flowers, fruit trees, and berry rows. Plants can provide food and shelter.

Bird Houses. These not only give birds a place to nest, but are also something for you to enjoy as new little peepers come around.

These are some of the basics that will bring birds right into your backyard. You may be thinking, All of this just for birds?


Well, start off with feeders near shelter (shrubbery). Birds need a place to flee to if a hawk comes around.

After that move on to houses, baths, and plants.


It may seem at first that there is nothing attending your feeders. Just wait for several days, and they’ll start coming sooner or later.


Once they come, don’t let your feeders and baths get empty. When birds know they have a reliable source, they’ll be back next year. Change feed/water and clean once a week to keep mold and disease down.

Here are some tips on watching birds.

  • Use binoculars.
  • Look at an unfamiliar bird as long as possible to get detail before it flies away. Then look in your field guide.
  • When approaching a bird, move quietly and slowly, stopping every now and then for it to get warmed up to you.

Now it’s on you. Get out and enjoy!