Backyard Chirper

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How to Attract New Species of Birds to Your Yard


So you’ve lived in the same place for 30 years and think you’ve seen all the species in your backyard you’ll ever see. What if I said you could attract new bird species to your property that haven’t visited before?

You might think I’m some sort of snake oil —err—bird oil salesman, but it’s entirely possible. Even though House Finches and Downy Woodpeckers are remarkable birds with tons of personality, you might be itching to see some new birds after decades of seeing the same ones.

Here’s how you can do it.

Offer different types of food

If you’ve been offering the same types of seed over the years, you’ve likely seen the same visitors over and over. By putting out other types of food birds love, you’ll see an influx of other species, including some you may not have seen before.

Let’s go through some of the foods you can offer.


This is an easy one to start off. Suet is beef fat, often mixed with seeds and other food, that provides birds with energy. You can find suet feeders in our store, but you can also put it on a pinecone or directly on tree bark. We asked some of our readers for their homemade suet recipes if you’re not interested in pre-made suet cakes.



Nectar is another quick way to attract new birds. Don’t assume nectar only attracts hummingbirds either. Orioles and woodpeckers enjoy eating nectar. You can even buy oriole feeders to target them specifically.


Black-oil sunflower seeds are the most popular seeds because of their propensity for attracting a range of birds while providing the most nutrients. If you’ve used these your whole life, experiment with other types.

You’ll want to avoid bags of mixed seed, but milo, millet, and even rapeseed will attract different species.


Believe it or not, peanuts are highly nutritious and appealing to birds. We wrote a whole article about feeding birds with peanuts. Jays, cardinals, woodpeckers, chickadees, ravens, doves, nuthatches, titmice, juncos, towhees, and more will eat peanuts.

Fruit and Jelly

Robins, mockingbirds, orioles, waxwings all eat fruits. If you haven’t seen these birds frequent your yard (and you know they live in the general area), give fruit and jelly a shot.

Mix Up Your Water Situation

Let’s preface this section: If you’re not offering water, do it immediately. You’ll start seeing more birds and perhaps new species coming around almost instantly.


If you have been providing water, it can get stale both metaphorically and literally. Using the same old birdbath will keep most birds satisfied, but if you’re interested in bringing in new species, here are some things you can do about it.

Add a heater

When it’s winter, water can be hard to come by. Getting something as simple as a heater or de-icer will give your yard an advantage over other places. As a result, you may see some new species.

Make the water move

Healthy water in nature is moving water because it typically has less bacteria. That’s why birds are naturally more attracted to water that’s moving. Sticking a water wiggler from Allied Precision or Birds Choice will make the water instantly more enticing. You can also opt for a waterfall rock, which adds some sound.

Try a mister

Misters spray a fine mist of water. Certain bird species really enjoy the mist and will fly through it.

Give ’em Shelter

The three main things birds need are food, water, and shelter. We finally come to the last necessity.

These are some things you can do to offer shelter.

Put up a birdhouse

A birdhouse or nesting box will draw in birds, but only if you really target them. Getting a general nesting box will not work because the birdhouse holes and house need to meet the specific requirements of species. Pick a bird you want around and really target that bird. (Make sure it’s found in your area, of course.)

Plant trees and bushes

Shelter also comes in the form of trees and bushes. Bird-friendly landscaping is a great way to draw in different types of birds. Make sure to plant things native to your area.

Create piles of wood and brush


For those birds that aren’t attracted by any food you put out, opt for creating a mini ecosystem in your yard with a pile of wood and brush. This will promote the life of spiders and other creatures, which birds love to eat. Not only that but it also gives birds shelter.

Research Birds & Target

Another thing you can do in conjunction with the above ideas is to research the birds in your area that you haven’t spotted in your yard and really target them. That means finding out what types of things a species like and try to accommodate them as much as possible.

Timothy Martinez Jr. is a writer and freelance journalist. His work has been published in The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Remapping Debate in New York City and other publications. He’s been a bird lover since he was young and currently lives in New Orleans, L.A.