Wildlife is abundant in Florida. Birds are everywhere so getting them to come to the backyard is not difficult. They enjoy the same things here as they did when I lived in the North. If you’d like them to visit regularly, give them a proper welcome. They need food, water, trees and places to land and hide.
Birds Love Water
Like us, birds need water to drink. Birds also love to play in the water. It looks like playing, but they are cleaning their feathers. They dip their heads and swiftly shake from head to toe while fluffing out their plumage.
In the north cardinals are more rarely observed than they are in Florida. It was a wonderful sight when they landed in my snowy winter yard. Here they are everywhere. But they are still just as afraid and skittish. Any movement will scare them off.
I captured (not so great) video of this red cardinal splashing around in my makeshift birdbath. I have a good view from my home office area and with the windows open, I can hear the birds land in the birdbath. He stayed there preening for a good five minutes, but the video is short.
This cheap “bird bath” was thrown together one day using a large plastic plant saucer with a brick in the center (or a rock would work). The brick helps hold the saucer in place and gives the birds a place to stand. Birds don’t like deep water and I don’t like the price of real birdbaths, so we are both happy! Sometimes birds will line up waiting for one bird to finish for the next to have his turn – like these gray catbirds waiting for the cardinal to finish up.
I’ve also seen robins, mockingbirds, goldfinches, a thrush, brown wren, and bluejays at the water. Change the water daily, and put it in the sun to remove mold in summer. The water can get pretty hot in summer, so it needs to be changed more often.
Feed the Birds
A winter ritual for me when I lived in New Hampshire was to stock my big metal barrel with sunflower seeds. I had to keep a heavy rock on top so the black bears wouldn’t get into it. Feeding the birds in winter was a nice thing to do. Here in Florida I will not feed them, except to provide plants that may have berries or fruit they eat.
In the North I would make my own suet, which the birds LOVED. Suet is not used in summer (unless you buy the non-melting kind), nor is it used in Florida where it will go bad quickly. If you decide to make your own, you’d better make a lot – it goes fast.
The tray feeder is something I will try in my Florida backyard. I don’t plan to buy seeds for it. Seeds will draw squirrels and the birds don’t need feeding here.
The tray feeder will be used for old bread and fruit bits that some birds may like. When pulling worms from garden vegetables (think big juicy tomato hornworms) or grubs from the grass they can be plopped into this feeder and birds will swoop down and scoff them up! I already have the shepherds hooks .
Trees and Bushes
Birds like to have a place to hide, or land, which is up off the ground. I have two cats, but they have never caught a bird in this yard. I had a cat once that was an absolute killer, but these cats are not. The birds seem to know this because they come to my yard even when the cats are sleeping near the garden.
Trees, like the Dahoon Holly which grows next to my property, are perfect places for birds to gather. My yard has scrawny oak trees and a few palm trees, but the birds love the tangled mass of branches right next door.
The Dahoon Holly tree is not something I was familiar with. This wild specimen grows hanging berry clumps and draws the birds to feed. It’s maze of branches give the birds a great place to rest and feel safe.
Bird Houses and Shelter
The previous section pretty much covers shelter in my opinion, but some people like to add a birdhouse to the yard.
I used to have one and watched the chickadees build a nest inside. If I see a chickadee in Florida it won’t be the northern Black-capped chickadee (in my photo), it will be the Carolina Chickadee.
Then there are the curious big birds that stroll through.
Don’t you love the Sandhill Cranes? They are the coolest birds. These three come strolling through the yard regularly, and they are not afraid!
(For great photos of backyard Florida birds visit the CatandTurtle blog. It’s how I discovered that the gray birds in my photo were catbirds.)