If you read our recent blog post about attracting birds to your backyard, you might be wondering how you can maximize your enjoyment of your new bird feeding station. Birding is all about making the experience as enjoyable as possible for both you and your feathered friends. Here are our five best tips for getting started with backyard birding in Bettendorf.
1. Get a bird identification app or book. Seeing birds in your yard is great, but it's even more fun if you can identify which birds are visiting. There are tons of excellent bird identification books available; you may even have one already! Keep your bird book close to whatever window you're most likely to watch birds from. If you're more of a "techie," you can download a birding app on your phone. One of the best paid apps available is iBird Pro Guide to Birds. It's $15 and available on iOS or Android devices. The Audubon Bird Guide is a close second, and it's free for iOS or Android devices.
2. Keep your binoculars or camera nearby. Similar to a bird book or app, binoculars and camera zoom lenses can be very useful for getting a close look at your feathered visitors. Keep your binoculars or camera handy near your favorite bird-watching window so you can easily access them when you see a new bird.
3. Move slowly and get comfortable. Birds are a bit flighty—pardon the pun! If your feeders are fairly close to the house, fast movements inside may scare them off. So, when you want to watch some birds, move slowly and quietly, and settle yourself somewhere comfortable where you can wait for a few minutes. If they all leave the feeders as soon as you step into the room, wait a few minutes. They may come back right away, or it may take a little time. Patience is essential for birding. When they do come back, pick up your binoculars or camera very slowly and calmly.
4. Clean your feeders and water source regularly. With rain, snow, and lots of traffic from avian guests, bird feeders and water dishes will get dirty fast. Wet food and seed can grow rotten and moldy, old food gets stale, and birds tend to use the bathroom wherever they are. You should regularly clean and disinfect your feeders and water source. If your local birds empty the feeders regularly, make a habit of giving each feeder a good wash out once or twice a month, rinsing with a bleach solution. Your water source should be cleaned and refilled with fresh water every 2-3 days. It's also essential to bleach the birdbath or water dish a couple of times per month as well. Keeping your feeders and water source clean and filled with fresh supplies makes your feeding station more appealing to your local bird populations, and helps prevent the spread of diseases from bird to bird.
5. Make sure they have shelter nearby. Birds need shelter close to feeders to feel secure. You can add some refuge to your yard in a variety of ways. Placing your feeding station near a group of trees and shrubs is very helpful. If that's not an option, you can create artificial shelter for them with brush piles. Piles of fallen or pruned branches from evergreen and deciduous trees offer smaller birds a safe place to hide or escape from larger predatory birds. If they can spot a hiding place near the food source, they'll be more comfortable at your feeding station.
Have you set up a new bird feeding station in your yard yet? If you've got any questions, or need any help making your yard more attractive to birds, come have a chat with us. We've got a whole section of our Bettendorf garden center dedicated to birds, and passionate birders on staff to help you on your backyard birding journey.