Common Items Around The House That Will Have Birds Flocking To Your Yard

Seeing birds appear in your yard is one of the greatest joys of spring. These creatures are beautiful to look at, making your garden feel alive and magical. There are many benefits to having a bird feeder, namely that the birds they attract eat pesky bugs and spread pollen. But the sky's the limit, and for a bird to settle into your yard, there has to be an adequate amount of food and shelter to make your home the place they would choose above all others.

Luckily, birds have fairly simple needs, and with a few additions, you can turn your yard into a bird sanctuary that will have them flocking. While there is no shortage of bird-related items to buy, you don't need to spend a lot of money to make them happy. Often, you can find items lying around the house that you can use to attract all kinds of birds (and keep them coming back). Here are eight ways that you can use common things you likely already have to make your yard a bird-friendly paradise.

Turn milk cartons into a DIY bird feeder

There are lots of fancy bird feeders on the market that do everything from attracting specific types of birds to deterring squirrels. You can go all out and buy a fancy decorative one, but as long as there is good-quality seed, the birds will be attracted to come feed. If you want to go the homemade route using just an old milk carton, you can create a fun DIY bird feeder. This is a great way to test out whether birds will be attracted to your yard before making an investment — or if you want to add an additional feeder to another location in your yard.

First, grab an empty milk carton and cut out a rectangle in the middle of the carton. Make sure it's high enough so you can fill it with birdseed. Then, use a pencil, scissors, or an X-Acto knife to poke a hole in each of the top sides of the carton. Thread a strong string through it so you are able to hang it. Below the opening, poke another small hole and insert a twig to act as a perch. Fill with birdseed and you're done! You can paint or decorate the carton, too, making it a fun activity to do with kids. There are a few downsides to a milk carton feeder as opposed to a store-bought one: It doesn't have any drainage, which means the bird seed could become moldy, and it isn't going to be able to withstand the elements like ones made of metal.

Dried or fresh fruit will attract birds

Whether you're human or a bird, there's nothing more refreshing than snacking on a piece of fresh fruit. Many people want to keep birds out of their fruit garden, but if you're trying to draw them in, leaving out a special treat can help make your yard stand out as a place birds want to live. It's important to provide a variety of healthy foods for birds so they can maintain a well-rounded diet. Even if you already have a feeder full of seeds, it can be worth adding some fruit as well.

You can leave out almost any type of fruit, dried or fresh, and the birds will enjoy it. Some of your best options are apples, grapes, cherries, raisins, berries of any kind, and even holly berries if you want to get rid of some Christmas foliage. Leaving the fruit out on a tray or flat surface in clear view of the sky or near the bird feeder will help make sure that they see it. For larger fruits like apples or oranges, you might want to break them into pieces before leaving them out so they are easy to consume. Check back regularly to make sure nothing is moldy or rotten, which might cause the birds to get sick.

Providing water is critical

In order for your yard to be a well-rounded habitat, birds need access to water. A bird bath will give them a place to drink and clean their feathers, which is a critical part of survival. This washes away dirt and bacteria, getting rid of pests that could cause infection or disease. This also makes it easier to preen their feathers, one of a bird's main daily activities, which keeps them warm and waterproof all year long. According to a report from the University of San Diego, up to 70% of a bird's body is made up of water, which makes it critical for them to have easy access.

This can be as simple as adding a shallow dish full of fresh water to your yard. You can also use this as an opportunity to add some beautiful decor to your yard, as there are bird baths to fit every style. You can go for a modern look with a cement bird bath or evoke a whimsical feeling with a charming DIY bird bath. No matter what form it takes, providing any source of water is an affordable and easy way to give birds what they need to survive and thrive in your yard.

Fabric and yarn are great nesting materials

Spring is finally here, which means birds everywhere are beginning to make their nests. It's a big task, and you can help the mama birds out by providing some materials perfect for nesting that they likely couldn't forage themselves. Having a wider variety of materials will appeal to a wider variety of birds and make your yard the favorable place to have babies. Scraps of fabric and yarn are perfect for nesting as long as they are made from natural fibers like raw cotton, hemp, or wool.

It's important to only use natural fibers since they won't retain water in the nest and will deteriorate along with the rest of the nest once the babies have flown away. Cut them into strips 1 inch thick and no longer than 6 inches. Leave them in places birds would naturally forage like on bushes or tree branches. Don't use synthetic fibers since these often contain dyes or chemicals which could harm the birds, and make sure to not have any strips be too long, otherwise a bird might get tangled.

Crushed eggshells provide a calcium boost

In order to lay strong eggs, birds need calcium. It is a core nutrient for any bird, and without sufficient quantities, a mama bird's eggs might be defective and never hatch. You can help out by providing some dried and crushed eggshells as an all natural, affordable solution. While some bird seed mixes come fortified with calcium, some birds like robins are less likely to visit feeders, so leaving out eggshells is a great way to feed all species.

Take your empty eggshells and give them a gentle rinse to get rid of any residue. Then, place them on a baking sheet and put them in the oven for 10 minutes at 250 degrees Fahrenheit. This will ensure the shells are fully dried. Make sure to keep an eye on them so they don't burn and become unusable. Crush them up until they are in small pieces but not so fine that they are ground into dust. You can do this with a rolling pin or your hands. Then, mix the crushed shells in with your birdseed or sprinkle it around the ground for the birds to scavenge. The birds who visit your yard will be rewarded with a much needed nutrient boost.

Peanut butter is a tasty treat for birds

It's strange how there is a myth that birds can't eat peanut butter since it is actually a food that they enjoy. They naturally forage nuts in the wild, so their digestion system will have no problem processing it — as long as you get one without additives and preservatives. It's a high protein snack that birds will love, especially the crunchy kind. The more variety of foods you can supply birds the better, since they need a diverse diet in order to get all the nutrients necessary.

You can simply smear a glob of peanut butter on the tree bark near the bird feeder. This method will attract the birds, but note that it will also likely attract squirrels and other critters. Alternatively, you can create a hanging peanut butter feeder by tying a string around a pinecone and slathering it in peanut butter. You can also roll this in some extra bird seed. 

Old hanging baskets provide nesting nooks

Birds are always looking for a safe place to rest and chill out, but finding a safe place to call home is especially important when they begin to nest. They look for places that are isolated enough from any action so that they will remain safe and hidden, but close enough in proximity to food sources. You can repurpose any old hanging baskets as a floating home for birds to move into. These can be from hanging plants that have died or been repotted. If you don't have any of these laying around, you can also take any old pot and turn it into a DIY hanging planter with some simple modifications.

All you have to do is hang them up somewhere shady and a happy bird will do the rest of the move-in process. Make sure that there are no broken, exposed wires or uneven leftover soil that could make it difficult or unsafe for the birds to nest. You'll want to place it near bird-friendly amenities like a feeder or bird bath, but far enough away from any windows or other nest locations so that the new birds don't get spooked and go somewhere else.

Nuts are a great source of nutrition

Those leftover snacks in the back of your cabinet might be the key to attracting more birds to your yard. Nuts are packed with fat and protein, two vital nutrients for birds. Pecans, almonds, walnuts, peanuts, macadamia nuts, pistachios, Brazil nuts, pine nuts, cashews, and hickory nuts will all attract various kinds of birds and keep them associating your yard with tasty, nutritious food — which, of course, makes them want to come back.

While some birds can open shelled nuts, it's best to use the unshelled kind so that it's easier for them to eat. You can leave the nuts on a flat platform near your home, on the ground, or put them in a feeder, as long as the opening is large enough for the nut to be easily pulled out. As with any type of bird food, you will want to check it regularly and swap it out so that it doesn't go bad and harm the birds.