Categories
Garden & Outdoors

Spring Birds To Look Out For in Your Garden

One of the first signs of spring across the U.S. is the change of bird song drifting in the canopy. Birds will sing and tweet throughout the winter, but as early as mid-February they announce the imminent breeding season through drawn-out tunes and whistles. 

Once you hear the change in birdsong, it isn’t long before southern migratory bird species arrive. These birds are sure signs of spring, and with their arrival comes the promise of warm weather and lengthening days. Keep your bird feeders clean and stocked, set out a bird bath and perhaps a nestbox, and you’ll be sure to invite some migratory birds into your garden. 

US Birds to Look Out for in Your Garden This Spring

The spring birds that may appear in your garden this year depend on your region. 

Many migratory birds winter in the far south, so it’s common for spring arrivals in the northern United States to be wintering birds in the south. The south is also the first place for birds who winter in the tropics to arrive. 

As we dive into each spring bird species, I’ll cover their migratory pattern and when that bird may arrive in your area. That way, you can prepare for their window of arrival, and you won’t miss their beautiful plumage or enticing melodies. 

American Robin

American Robin Perched
Image by Gavin Edmondstone via Flickr.

Although often seen as spring birds, American robins are considered a residential species and stay in their breeding range year-round. However, they are still a sign of spring because many robins fly to southern states during the winter, and the robins that stay around aren’t as active in lawns or gardens. Rather; they stick to the tree canopy or dense shrubs, relatively out of sight. 

In this way, flocks of robins hopping around on the ground looking for worms and insects are a joyous sign of spring. Plus, around mid-February to early March, they’ll start perching at the tops of trees and sing rich caroling notes in the morning and evening. These delightful melodies will last through the warm season into early Autumn. 

Red-Winged Blackbird 

A Perched Red-winged Blackbird
Image by Frank via Flickr.

Red-winged blackbirds are a year-round resident in the South and parts of the West. However, red-winged blackbirds are one of the first spring birds to arrive in the Midwest and Northern United States. In the Great Lakes region and Northeast, they arrive mid-February to early March. 

Red-winged blackbirds’ preferred nesting habitat is wetland areas where cattails are abundant. They will visit bird feeders if it’s near their nesting habitat. Because they often fly in flocks together, common grackles will also arrive around the same time as red-winged blackbirds. 

Purple Martin 

A Pair of Purple Martins
Image by Bonnie Ott via Flickr.

If you’re lucky, purple martins may visit your garden bird feeder as they migrate from South America to their northern breeding ground. These early spring birds arrive in the southern United States as soon as mid-January and can reach New England around mid-April. 

Purple Martins predominantly breed in the Midwest to the East Coast where they almost exclusively nest in specialty purple martin birdhouses. They are rare in the west where they prefer old woodpecker cavity nests.

As the largest North American swallow, purple martins are beautiful and unique birds to attract to your garden. Their numbers are in decline, which makes it even more critical for birders in the east to provide nest boxes for this species. 

Tree Swallow

A Tree Swallow Calls
Image by Insu Nuzzi via Flickr.

Tree swallows are early migratory birds, arriving in the southern United States in late January to early February. They steadily make their way north and can reach the northernmost parts of the U.S. by March or April.

Tree swallows are one of the easiest birds to attract to a nestbox. Because of this, you can invite them to your garden by setting up a cavity nest box.

House Wren 

House Wren Singing
Image by Larry Cusick via Flickr.

The house wren is a delightful springtime visitor to gardens across the United States. House wrens winter in the southern states and migrate to northern breeding grounds which span across much of the United States. They arrive from late March to early May. 

These little birds love brush piles and dense foliage. If you have shrubs in your garden, they may stop by for a visit. If you wish to attract a breeding pair to live in your garden for the season, consider setting up a nest box. 

Indigo Bunting 

Indigo Bunting in Spring Blossom
Image by Matthew Studebaker via Flickr.

The Indigo bunting is a wonder to behold. In the spring, you can attract these beautiful dark blue birds to backyard bird feeders as they migrate to breeding grounds. 

Wintering in Central America, Indigo Buntings migrate to the United States and southern Canada to breed. They arrive in the southern states around the end of April and in the northern states from late May to early June. 

Indigo buntings are common from the Midwest to the East Coast and are much less common in the West. 

Orioles 

Baltimore Oriole Perching
Image by John Munt via Flickr.

Orioles are brightly-colored birds whose arrival marks the height of Spring. The Baltimore oriole is the easiest backyard species to spot compared to the other, more conspicuous orioles (such as the Orchard Oriole). This striking bird arrives in the Eastern and Central United States from early April to late May. 

The western counterpart to the Baltimore oriole is the Bullock’s Oriole. This oriole is common in cottonwood tree stands throughout the west during the breeding season. 

Leave fresh orange halves or grape jelly out and you’ll likely attract these common orioles to your garden. You can even purchase oriole bird feeders that provide sweet nectar water. 

Grosbeaks 

Grosbeak on a Bird Feeder
Image by Eva Orleans via Flickr.

As strikingly beautiful birds with equally impressive songs, grosbeaks signal that spring is here to stay. While there are a few species across North America, the spring species to pay attention to are the Rose-breasted Grosbeak, the Blue Grosbeak, and the Black-headed grosbeak. 

Rose-breasted grosbeaks are a treasure to the Upper Midwest, Great Lakes region, and New England. They frequent bird feeders and will stick around your garden if there are plenty of trees nearby. They arrive at their breeding grounds in the north early to mid-May. 

The blue grosbeak shares a similar range to the Rose-breasted grosbeak but tends to breed farther south. 

In the west, keep a lookout for the black-headed grosbeak. If you have a bird feeder, this beautiful orange and black bird will stick around and gift you with a lovely song day after day. 

Warblers

A Yellow Warbler Perched
Image by ksblack99 via Flickr.

We can’t talk about spring birds without mentioning the many warblers that migrate across North America. These cheerful little birds love to visit gardens and dense shrubs. However, you might miss them if you don’t keep a lookout! Warblers move quickly through areas, but if you have a variety of native plants and shrubs, they’ll likely come again. 

Some of the more common spring warblers to see in your garden include the yellow warbler, Wilson’s warbler, common yellowthroat, American redstart, and the Magnolia warbler. 

Additional Birds to Look Out For This Spring

Spring is a joyous time for birders across the U.S. as thousands of birds migrate to breeding grounds. In addition to the birds listed above, keep an eye out for hummingbirds, thrushes, kinglets, and sparrows. These birds will likely stop by if you have a garden with native plants and shrubs, a stocked birdfeeder, and a bird bath. 

Which Spring Birds Have You Seen in Your Garden? 

How many spring birds on this list have you spotted in your garden? Are there any birds that frequent your feeder you didn’t see on this list? Because of all the different species migrating across North America in the spring, you’ll likely have some visitors not mentioned here. Let us know in the comments below; we’d love to hear from you!  

Categories
Garden & Outdoors

Top 5 Plants To Attract Wild Birds To Your Garden

We all love to see winged visitors in our garden. Their joyful song and cheerful character make our gardens a more relaxing place. Many of us put out bird seed and bird boxes, but we can also choose plants that act as a natural source of food. The best plants or flowers will feature edible fruit or seeds and nest-building materials to attract birds.

Plants that attract wild birds to your garden

You don’t need acres of land to attract birds to your garden. You can help nature in any size of outdoor space by growing a few plants in pots on a balcony.

With bird population numbers declining all over the world due to environmental stress, there’s no better time to start thinking of our singing garden friends. Winter is the perfect time of year to start planning your Spring garden.

In 2024, why not specifically choose some bird-loving plants to help increase your garden’s population? We’ve put together a list of the best plants to attract wild birds to your garden.

How To Choose Plants To Attract Wild Birds To Your Garden

When reading our list, keep in mind your own outdoor space and conditions. Look around and notice how much of your garden is in full sun or shade.

Think about the size of your outdoor space, if you have acres of land you can easily plant flower beds and fast-spreading shrubs. But, if your space is a balcony or patio, take note of the pot-loving and compact plants.

Lastly, do some research on the local birds in your area and choose native plants. The bird-attracting plants featured on this list can be grown in most areas of the world, but native plants will attract the most winged friends to your garden – even in the bleak of winter.

Our Nest Box Live will help you discover the local birds in your area so you can tailor your plants even more!

What Features Attract Birds To Plants?

  • Nesting and Habitats – birds need somewhere to shelter all year round. If you have the space, pick at least one bushy plant that will protect birds from the elements. Birds also use plants to hide from predators.
  • Attract Insects – plants that encourage insects such as ants, spiders, beetles and caterpillars will, in turn, encourage birds.
  • Seeds and Fruit – plants that provide a natural food source will attract birds to your garden. High-energy foods such as sunflower hearts will help birds in the winter.

What Plants Attract Wild Birds To Your Garden?

Sunflowers

These sun-loving flowers are available in lots of different varieties so they can be grown in small pots or large fields! Not only do they attract birds, but they also look stunning in your garden.

Sunflower Bunch

Sunflowers are easy to grow and make the ideal project plant for teaching kids about garden. Be wary of slugs and protect the seedlings from a young age with copper tape or wool pellets. 

As the name suggests, Sunflowers prefer full sun. But, the tall-growing varieties such as ‘Russian Giant’ and ‘Titan’ will tower above all other plants and reach the sun even if they’re shaded initially by other plants. Some great varieties for smaller spaces are ‘Teddy’ and ‘Dwarf Yellow Spray’.

Sunflowers will bring birds into your garden by attracting insects which are a diet staple for birds such as Bluebirds, Swallows, Robins and Sparrows. After your sunflowers have finished flowering, cut off the heads and place them around your garden for the birds to peck out the seeds.

Why not Grow Your Own Sunflowers with this sustainable kit?

Coneflower/ Echinacea

This punchy-coloured perennial will welcome birds into your garden year after year. They’re easy to grow from seed or readily available as plants from the garden centre. Coneflowers are a late-flowering plant so they provide shelter and insects for birds when most other plants are past their best.

Coneflowers grow best in an area of full sun and well-draining soil. They have no problem being grown in pots or containers for a balcony or patio display.

Their seeds attract finches and their long stems and big flower heads provide shelter for birds searching for insects in the soil below.

Roses

A cottage garden favourite for its beauty and longevity, roses are also a favourite amongst birds. After a Rose has flowered, think again before deadheading. If left alone, a ‘Rosehip’ forms which are seed-filled bulbs.

Rosehips are a rich source of vitamins and antioxidants for overwintering birds. Thrushes, Blackbirds, Redwing, Fieldfare and Waxwings will devour these buds in the Winter.

Many roses can thrive in a partial shade garden. There are thousands of variants available, some tailored to pots and others thriving in raised beds.

Not only are they a great food source, Rosehips add a bust of colour to an otherwise dull Winter garden.

Crab Apple

The Crab Apple tree is a stunning classic in British gardens. Providing fruit to make jelly and jam for us, and providing shelter and food for birds.

Crab Apples are hardy trees and are well suited to a position in full sun or partial shade. They also grow well in pots.

Their long-lasting fruit provides food for bird species such as Cardinals, Cedar Waxwings, and Robins. However, avoid the following varieties of Crab: Apple Adams, Donald Wyman, Firebird and Red Jewel.

Remember to plant two or more Apple trees so they can cross-pollinate and produce fruit.

Holly Bush

An iconic winter evergreen, the Holly bush provides tasty berries throughout the winter and makes a great decoration for Christmas wreaths!

You will often see characterful Robins perches on Holly branches in the winter. They provide tasty berries for several species and Many birds nest in holly, using its leaves for protection. It’s a favourite amongst Blackbirds, Fieldfares, Redwings and Thrushes.

You can grow holly in containers or plant in the ground. They prefer a position in full sun but can thrive in part shade.

What Else You Can Do To Attract Wild Birds To Your Garden?

Other bird-attracting plants include the Rowan Tree, Blackthorn Tree, Honeysuckle, Elderberry and Calicarpa. As well as planning your plants, you should avoid using pesticides and chemicals in your garden.

Opt for organic and wildlife-friendly sprays and try to use homemade compost where possible. You may not think you’re directly harming birds, however, the insects killed by the chemicals are then eaten by birds.

Also, check your garden bird baths daily in the winter. Birds need fresh, clean water for drinking and bathing. Providing a water source increases your chance of seeing birds in your garden.