Evaluate Your Yard
Nothing will bring more joy to your garden than a resident bird population. Happily, the greater the variety of plants, shrubs and trees you have in your yard, the wider the array of birds and other wildlife you're likely to attract. Birds will explore your yard looking for several perks: bushes and trees that provide shelter; brush piles, for ground-loving birds; nest-building materials; and plants that will provide food in the form of fruits, seeds and nectar. So take stock of the plants and features in your yard and consider adding new bird-friendly features.
Know Your Birds
Not all birds want the same kind of food or shelter. Learn more about the birds in your area and their needs and habits by consulting a bird book or a website like National Geographic's Backyard Bird Identifier. If birds like what they see in your yard, they'll stick around.
Birds hide out in different canopy layers. That's why having a mixture of trees, shrubs, vines and tall grasses provide optimal shelter. For year-round shelter, try white pine, holly and arborvitae. Both broadleaf and needle evergreens provide great winter shelter and food for birds. Another idea is to leave part of your yard for a brush pile. Just pile old branches over some logs to provide winter shelter for ground-loving birds. This is also a great way to recycle your old Christmas tree.
Build a Birdhouse
Go that extra step by building a birdhouse. Position your birdhouse up high, preferably on a metal pole (rather than a tree, which may be accessible by predators), and near a tree so that birds can easily assess the house before moving in. Don't place it too close to a bird feeder, as this may draw predators to the birdhouse. Know the wind pattern in your yard and face the opening of the house away from the most common wind. If you live in a hotter climate, be sure not to face the front of the birdhouse south or east, as it might get too hot in summer.
Feed Your Visitors
The best way to feed your avian visitors is plant native perennials that produce seeds, berries and nectar. Also, think about planting a variety of shrubs and plants that bloom at different times, such as serviceberries in late spring, blueberries in summer and honeysuckle in fall. You can also supplement the food your plants provide with bird feeders.