Birding Tips: Simple Backyard Enhancements

When birds come into the open to feed, they can feel dangerously exposed to predators. Setting feeders near trees, shrubs, and other safe havens can make them feel less vulnerable, and even save their lives.

Some birds, especially cardinals, juncos, doves, and native sparrows, are especially drawn to brush piles. A used Christmas tree can provide the perfect start. Trimmed branches are also very useful in brush piles.

Alongside a fence in a back corner of your yard can be an ideal location. Some people consider brush piles unsightly. Placing yours in an inconspicuous area protects the aesthetics of your yard and keeps it where people are least likely to bother the birds.

It’s not a bad idea to provide a few peanut-butter pinecones, or a string of popcorn (not microwave popcorn, and no butter) or cranberries on the tree, but remember that the purpose of a brush pile is more for shelter than food. Scattering a bit of birdseed on the ground near the brush pile will help attract the attention of juncos, doves, and other birds passing over. They’ll feed near the brush pile with the security of that nearby hideout.

When placed in an out-of-the-way spot that works with your landscaping, a brush pile gives spring and fall migrants a wonderful safe haven and some breeding birds nighttime shelter.

Some of the birds that take shelter in a brush pile include:
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Dark-eyed Junco
  • Fox Sparrow
  • White-throated Sparrow
  • Thrashers
  • Towhees