March is a month of movement for many bird species. The first neotropical migrants will be arriving. Some will stay a few days before moving on, while others may set up nesting territories. They will supplement our year-round species, increasing the diversity of bird life in our backyards. They are all looking for four basic requirements for survival and successful breeding: food, water, shelter/cover and nesting sites.
If you want to take advantage of this increase in activity by inviting birds into your yard, follow these few simple guidelines:
At the very least, keep sunflower seed available for these migrants, but varied food is a key to diversity of species. Sunflower is the old standby, but sprinkle some millet mixture under the feeders for ground-feeding birds. Provide some no-melt suet dough for insectivorous species that may not frequently patronize seed feeders, and don’t forget hummingbirds. Have their feeders up by mid-March. You will likely see a burst of hummingbird activity around April 1 and then a dropoff. Activity will pick up again in late July.
Plant some native plants to provide fruit and seeds for local wildlife. Remember, our local birds evolved with the local plants, so they recognize them and prefer them as food sources. You will also attract more insect pollinators that can serve as an additional food source and generally add to a dynamic habitat.
Again, choices will beget diversity of species. Try targeting certain species by providing the proper size of box and entrance hole. Try a box for a great-crested flycatcher or one for a brown-headed nuthatch. The standard “bluebird box” is great and a proven producer, but birds have optimal requirements for optimal nesting success. If you have a bunch of bluebird-type boxes, purchase or make some entrance hole adapters to fit some other smaller species.
By following these relatively simple suggestions, I am sure you will notice an increase in the diversity – not only of birds, but of all wildlife – just outside your window.