There are three basic needs birds and butterflies have that are not unlike our own. They need food, shelter, and water. If you have all of that, you are on your way to attracting them. As with any good hostess, you want to make them feel at home so they will stay. I realize, now, I have been an unreliable hostess. When spring rolls around I have simply put out bird seed. When I remember, I refill it. After spring and summer pass, I stop filling the feeders. No wonder the birds and butterflies have been fare weather friends. I probably wouldn’t stick around either if I never knew day to day or week to week if there would be any munchies in Michelle’s yard. So, rule number one: keep a steady supply of food and water all year long. Diversity of food is important.
Think about it from your pet’s perspective if you have one. Sure, my dogs enjoy their kibble and appear to relish it every time I put it down for breakfast and dinner. But when they get a treat, that something extra that’s out of the ordinary, they savor it. So you can imagine the same philosophy applies to wildlife. Bird seed and hummingbird nectar is great as a supplement, but dig into nature’s pantry for the main course. Choose flowers, plants, trees, and shrubs that will create a landscape that produces food all four seasons.
Here is a list to get you started: alyssum, astilbe, bee balm, coneflower, dahlia, eucalyptus, geranium, hibiscus, impatiens, lantana, marigolds, phlox, salvia, sunflowers, and zinnia. Herbs are great too including: dill, mint, and parsley. Over ripe fruit is a big attraction. Instead of tossing it out with the trash add it to the garden. Bright colors are a bonus too.
Shelter is equally important as food and water. Create a safe haven for birds to retreat to. The shade of trees, shrubs, and bird houses are ideal. This, of course, is to the chagrin of my Airedale Terrier. She fancies a romp in open spaces to catch them if she can. I am starting the process now to entice birds and butterflies into my yard and will work to keep them in sight. I have the support of my dogs to invite more wildlife of the fluttering variety into the yard; however, while I want to enjoy their beauty, my canine companions have ulterior motives. That’s another issue altogether and a challenge I will conquer after my new backyard guests arrive. Here’s to creating a landscape with the right additions that will keep birds and butterflies coming back instead of just passing through.