PENNSYLVANIA (WHTM) – Birds are not only beautiful creatures that can be exciting to watch and try to identify, but they are also helpful to maintaining a healthy garden.

Bird’s diets involve lots of insects and because of this they can help keep pesky garden pests at bay. Birds are also pollinators; however, they are less important in the pollination process than bees because they mostly focus on wildflowers.

According to Penn State, birds will come to a yard that offers them shelter, food and water.

Food can be provided in many forms, including installing a bird feeder in your yard. However, relying on store bought food isn’t necessary to feed birds.

Planting native trees and shrubs that produce nuts and berries all throughout the year is the best way to ensure birds will want to stay in your yard all the time. A never-ending food source is very attractive to birds.

Make sure that the trees and shrubs you choose are native. Birds are used to eating from native plants in their area and the plants will be easier to maintain. Native plants attract native insects, which are an instrumental part of bird’s diets.

Another way to provide a food source for birds is to hold off on the raking in the fall. Leaves provide a hot bed for bugs which birds will feast from.

Birds also need a place where they feel safe if they are going to spend time in your yard. They need shelter.

Native shrubs, which can also provide food for them, when grouped together are a good cover for birds. Trees are also important for birds because it doubles as a place to hide and a place to nest. Smaller trees such as native dogwood and birch are faster growing options then taller trees such as oak.

Birdhouses may also work for attracting some types of birds.

Birds also need water just like humans to survive. If you are able to install a small pond in your yard, this will greatly increase the chances of birds visiting, but even a small bird bath will entice birds.

Penn State provided this list of trees and shrubs that provide food to birds:

  • Serviceberry Amelanchier
  • Spicebush Lindera benzoin
  • American Beautyberry Callicarpa americana
  • Pin Cherry Prunus pennsylvanica
  • Dogwood Cornus
  • American Holly Ilex opaca
  • Winterberry holly Ilex verticillata
  • American beech Fagus grandifolia
  • White Pine Pinus strobus
  • American Cranberrybush Viburnum trilobum
  • Juniper Juniperus virginiana
  • Elderberry Sambucus Canadensis
  • Blueberry Vaccinium corymbosum

Some birds have specific needs that will decide whether they visit a place or not, such as hummingbirds. Hummingbirds are attracted to certain plants such as Bee Balm, Hosta and Catmint.

If you provide the basic needs for birds through food, water and shelter, birds will visit your yard year-round.