Are you enchanted by birdsong? Would you like to invite birds into your garden? When you create a space that features suitable plants and species that are native to Québec, they’ll be able to settle in and raise their young.
What are the criteria for getting Bird Garden certification?
If it meets the three criteria listed below, your Bird Garden is eligible for certification.
- Put in a diversity of plants enabling birds to protect themselves from bad weather and predators: trees, shrubs, hedges or vegetation in clumps.
- Provide a variety of food sources in all seasons (fruit, seeds) as well as a clean, shallow water source.
- Maintain your garden in a way that respects biodiversity by adopting the basic principles of organic gardening.
How to make a Bird Garden
When considering making a Bird Garden, you have to think in terms of comfort and abundance. Offer a pleasant, calm and safe environment by varying the height of plants and providing areas that can be used as shelters. Also, always offer water, food, and perches that are out of the reach of cats!
Step 1 – Prepare an inviting habitat
A varied architecture pays off! If possible, plant vegetation in tiers, creating at least three levels. Birds will land in larger trees, approach from shrubs and explore in the undergrowth. When a tree dies, remove only the dangerous parts, leaving the rest to serve as a perch, a larder or even a home for other species.
Trees and shrubs provide birds with protection from weather conditions and predators. Opt for plants that form wide hedges and clumps, providing sufficient cover for their nests. Invaluable refuges!
Plants adapted to our climate
Choose Québec indigenous plant species. In addition to being adapted to our climate, native plants meet the needs of many species of birds here.
When autumn comes, take it easy. Leave foliage and floral stems in place. That way you’ll be providing shelter for a number of useful living organisms (insects, small mammals) and enabling birds to perch and feast on end-of-season seeds or fruits. And that’s not all! You’ll be offering your plants better winter protection, and they’ll enrich the soil as they decompose. Nature does things right.
Visible windows, cats with bells and darkness
Limit the risks of collision with windows by making them more visible to birds. Install external screens, stickers or light curtains. Another option: install feeders, suet cages and other food sources within 3 meters from windows (birds won’t have enough flying momentum to injure themselves), or more than 6 meters away from the house (giving birds enough distance to avoid the obstacle).
If your cat goes for walks in the garden, attach a little bell to its collar. The ringing will alert the birds to the arrival of a predator and make hunting more difficult.
Light pollution disrupts the behavior of migrating birds. Turn off your garden lights at night or install a timer or motion detector; that way you’re providing light only when necessary. You can also direct your lights towards the ground and not up at the sky.
Step 2 – Create abundance
Many birds can’t get enough of plants that produce fruits and seeds. To attract them to your garden, include in your landscaping plants that have a particular appeal for birds. Of course, you will have to share!
Provide leaf litter at the base of trees: a community of insects make their home there, work on your soil and serve as meal for the birds. You will be amazed by the bird foraging behavior.
Feeders and suet cages also help foster birdlife. The best time for installing them? September to May. In summer, food is abundant in the natural environment. To keep non-native birds and squirrels away, choose feeders that are inverted, weight-activated or that have short perches. You can find these adapted feeders in stores or on specialized Internet sites.
If you do decide to install feeders, make sure to maintain them throughout the winter in order to take care of the birds that stay in Quebec during the cold season. To demystify the whole thing, look at our blog article helping birds survive the winter.
A clean and safe source of water
Ensure access to a source of clean and shallow water. Got some space? A small shallow pond is ideal! In addition to offering refreshment to birds, it has the advantage of attracting amphibians.
If you’re using a bird bath, don’t forget to change the water daily in summer and to clean it regularly. While it was once suggested that baths be maintained during the cold season, it is now not recommended that they be kept active during winter. A bath on a cold day could be fatal for them. In winter, you can use a heated water fountain or simply remove the bird bath.
Birdhouses? Not necessarily…
Very few species use a birdhouse, most birds preferring to build their own nests with materials of their choosing. Moreover, birdhouses sold commercially may be of more benefit to non-native species. Nevertheless, in certain circumstances, well adapted birdhouses correctly installed in an appropriate habitat may encourage nest building by native species in decline.
If you want to install a birdhouse, be aware that the bird species that agree to live there have their preferences when it comes to nesting. You’ll therefore have to consider the type of birdhouse, the size of its opening and its positioning based on the species of bird you have in mind.
The habitat or environment where the birdhouse is installed is also important. In addition, you have to bear in mind the maintenance and cleaning that need to be done.
Step 3 – Tend the garden in an ecologically responsible way
Follow our advice and tips for making an environmentally friendly garden.
Did you know that …
With carefully-chosen plants, you can provide a food source for birds throughout the year.