If you have a yard or a garden, you have probably asked this question more than once in your life. Why are there suddenly so many birds in my yard? What is happening? Is the world ending?
Or if this wasn’t a sudden thing and has been happening for longer than usual now, what keeps these birds hanging around? What do I have in my yard that other yards don’t?
This might have caused you panic due to the damage they can do to your yard, or delight if you love birds, but either way, the mystery is still there. This article aims to answer these burning questions, and hopefully by the end of the article, you will have a hint on why they chose your yard over the rest in the neighborhood.
Your yard is full of insects.
You might not have noticed this, but one of the reasons why birds flock in your yard is because your yard, more specifically your soil, plants and trees, if you have any, is full of insects. Yikes!
Most birds are considered insectivorous, which means their diet is composed entirely of insects. These insects may include flying insects, grasshoppers, caterpillars, ants, spiders, butterflies, moths, crickets, dragonflies, aquatic insects if you have a garden fountain or bird bath, and many more.
Once they find a spot that is packed with yummy insects they can stuff themselves with, they stick around. They will let the rest of their flock know, and the next thing you know, you have a bird rave in your yard.
You have nice bright flowers.
Birds, like many other animals, can see colors differently than humans do. In fact, they can see even more colors than we do, and they see ultraviolet colors, which means they can perceive even those that are invisible to our human eyes.
Human eyes can only perceive colors under visible light due to the triple-cone structure of our retinas. Birds have four! Another thing to be jealous about.
Apparently, unlike other predators on the higher layers of the pyramid, birds have a weak sense of smell and may sometimes entirely rely on their sense of sight and the colors around them.
This is also partly why flowers have evolved and developed different colors; they are trying to invite birds to come to them. Like the bees, birds aide the pollination process, so the flowers produce nectars that birds absolutely love. Some birds also prefer seeds, like sunflower seeds. It’s a give and take relationship.
So if you have beds and beds of sunflowers and roses in your yard in different colors, don’t be surprised that birds are mesmerized. Besides, they see more colors than you do!
You have trees in your garden.
Trees provide three things that birds absolutely love: fruits, seeds, and shelter. They are critical in bird survival as they meet most of the birds’ basic needs. In human language, imagine a place where you can get free meals with desserts and free rent!
Trees like mulberry, black cherry, beech, oak, maple, cedar, pine, and birch are some of the trees that are very attractive to birds, as they either produce sweet berries or seeds and pinecones, and provide a nice safe shelter. Most trees are also inhabited by various insects, so really, the birds get a three-course meal!
If you are lucky, mama birds may decide to build a nest in one of your trees and lay her eggs there if the area is an optimal area for a shelter. In this case you may want to be more welcoming and offer some snacks. Think of the children!
There is a storm coming.
Contrary to the misconception that birds have poor cognitive skills, a.k.a. “birdbrain”, birds can detect a coming storm and thus keep a low profile.
They stay landed or close to the ground or sheltered in trees during an incoming storm because flying high against or with the wind might pose a danger and risk to their survival. During bad weather conditions, the air pressure drops and the barometer falls rapidly, which means it will be extremely difficult for birds to keep a steady flight should they decide to fly, and may be painful for them as well due to the pressure-sensitive organs in their ears.
If they are in a flock, chances are they will stay together and seek refuge in your garden, especially if you have trees, until the storm passes. They might stay away from very tall trees though to avoid the risk of getting whipped around due to strong winds.
They are migrating and making a pit stop
Have you ever been on a long-winding trip and needed to make a stop to have a little stretch, use the toilet, or have a little snack? Birds do too.
When birds migrate, or move from one place to another in one big flock, sometimes they might decide to make a couple of pit stops until they find a suitable area to make their new territory.
Additionally, for migratory birds, there are three highlights in a year: breeding season, migrating season, and moult. Moult is a critical process where birds take time to shed old feathers to make way for new ones. Like some reptiles that shed skin, moulting is an important process in a bird’s life that makes their flights even better.
If you are familiar with racing, pit stops are scheduled stops in laps that are dedicated for servicing and refuelling. Hence it can also be used to describe the stops birds make when migrating. They are essentially brief rests that allow them to “service” themselves and “get new tires”, or grow new feathers, for a smoother flight in the next lap.
Benefits of Having Birds In Your Garden
Now that you know some of the reasons why you have a lot of birds in your yard or garden, you might want to know if this will personally benefit you. The answer is an astounding yes!
There are many ways coexisting with birds benefit humans, and it’s not something we usually think about, but they are there. While there are some cons with having an excessive amount of birds in your garden, like the damage they can do if they are uncontrolled, there are also great benefits. If you have a lot of birds in your garden, keep reading and find out what you get out of it!
If you have flowers, they help make more flowers and keep them pretty!
Apparently, when birds sip on flower nectars, this improves the overall health of the flowers and makes them more vibrant. Birds like hummingbirds and orioles are very well known for this.
Generally, as mentioned above, birds aide in flower pollination. This is known as Ornithophily, and spiderhunters, sunbirds, hummingbirds, and honeycreepers are some of the birds that usually help in pollination.
They help flowers in fertilization by transferring pollen from one flower to the next via their bills. Flowers that are tubular in shape, have petals that curve downwards, have bright colors, and are odorless are usually the flowers that birds love to hang around with. So if you want to keep your beds of flowers in tip top shape and produce more, then birds are your friends!
They help clear out insects and rodents
Birds that are insectivorous can greatly help insect problems in your garden. They are your natural insecticides and may help in controlling the amount of insects flying around if they bother you a lot. That’s not saying you will completely get rid of all insects though, but the fact that they may be able to control it is a nice bonus.
Additionally, if you have rodent problems, larger birds may provide excellent control by hunting them down. They may be able to prey on considerably small animals that shouldn’t be in your yard, such as mice, rats, snakes, squirrels, and other critters that do a lot of damage.
So if you absolutely loathe having bothersome insects, or dangerous rodents that may carry diseases, let the birds do their jobs.
They help control unwanted weeds.
There is evidence that the most efficient way to get rid of, or at least control, the spread of unwanted weeds is to have seed-eating birds in the area. This article by Sylvester D. Judd, PhD, entitled Birds as Weed Destroyers, states that birds prevent weeds by eating the seeds before they even grow to be weeds!
During the winter season, weed seeds are normally the staple in a bird’s diet, as they are widely distributed in some areas. These weed seeds help fill them up and also help in keeping them warm, as their body heat regulation depends on their diet. This is why if you have birds who frequent your garden, it is recommended that you do not remove 100% of the weeds to help minimize the impact on these birds using them as sources of nutrients. Meanwhile, in all other seasons, birds use grown weeds to build their nests too!
Judd also states that “…these birds are little weeders whose work is seldom noted, but always felt,” which is probably the sweetest way to appreciate these birds’ honest work!
Bird Watching is a form of stress-relief!
According to a study from the University of Exeter in England, there are great benefits in being surrounded by nature, including birds. This study with over 270 respondents from all walks of life, incomes, and ethnicities, found that there is a huge correlation between having lots of birds in the area and having increased moods, positive vibes, and a generally healthier mental health.
Just being around birds in general gives a sense of calmness, and helps you bridge your connection with nature. If you think about it, humans have been around for 6 to 7 million years and spent about 99.99% of the time living in the natural environment. It’s only natural (no pun intended!) to feel more at home within nature surrounded by these beautiful birds.
For most people, bird-watching is a meditative experience and can easily be incorporated in your daily self-care routines. It encourages mindfulness and leaves you alone with your thoughts, at least for a few moments. In cases of people living with dementia, it has been reported that bird-watching and identifying them helps keep the mind active and healthy. There is zero doubt that bird-watching helps our overall mental health!
They increase your property value.
If your garden is beautiful and bountiful enough to attract birds, there’s a big chance that it is beautiful enough to increase the overall value of your property!
Some home buyers are attracted to properties with nice gardens, great overall scenery, and a good balance between personal space and nature, especially if the home buyers have children! They will want a nice yard that is close to nature where their children can play in. Seeing lots of birds in their yard could be a great educational and bonding moment between the parents and their children as they introduce the kids to appreciating and enjoying wildlife. This could be a great selling point if you want to sell or rent out your property.
You may be contributing to wildlife conservation without knowing it.
If you notice that birds choose to hang out in your yard out of all the yards or gardens in your neighborhood, this means that for these birds, your space is a safe space.
Organizations and groups all over the world are fighting hard to encourage governments and private corporations to contribute to wildlife conservation through making big environmental-friendly decisions and campaign plans, but you don’t have to be someone big or powerful to do this. You can just simply tend to your garden, make it an oasis for these wild birds, and that is definitely considered a form of wildlife conservation.
Give yourself some slack and be reminded that while it may inconvenience you (if you don’t like birds), you are doing something great for the environment and you are helping preserve the survival of these birds by simply allowing them to take refuge in your space.
If you want to improve your yard or garden for these birds, here are some suggestions:
- Ensure that your plants, flowers, bushes, or trees are bird-friendly.
- Tend to your flowers or plants on a regular basis, and don’t get rid of weeds entirely.
- Get some bird feeders and bird baths and maintain them regularly.