Backyard Chirper

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Ways to attract warblers to your backyard

Black-and-white Warbler

I couldn’t tell you the first warbler I’ve ever seen, but I always remember the first warbler of every spring. The first warbler I saw this spring was a frenetic Black-and-white Warbler passing through a park in Brooklyn.

Warblers are coveted by bird enthusiasts due to their activity and unique patterns. They’re sometimes referred to as the “butterflies of the bird world” because they are so small, active and colorful. Warblers are well-known insectivores with small beaks, so that means you usually can’t get them into your backyard by simply putting out a bird feeder.

However, if you’re truly interested in attracting them to your yard, it is possible to lure the brilliant yellows, greens and stripes of warblers with some work.

Make water a priority

Water is the best way to attract warblers to your yard because it’s easy to provide and a necessary resource. Warblers seem to have an affinity toward running water, so putting up a fountain bird bath is a good idea.

Provide shelter and cover with native plants

Warblers prefer wooded and bushy areas that provide cover. If your yard is currently bare, consider planting cypress, oak, pine and other types of trees to attract the birds. This is a long-term solution, but it’s worth it if you want warblers in your yard. Also, avoid cutting down poison ivy or poison oak because warblers love it.

Put out a suet feeder

Although suet feeders aren’t likely to attract a large amount to your yard, warblers have been known to eat suet. For example, last year, Lillian and Don Stokes spotted a Pine Warbler eating from their cage suet feeder in New Hampshire. Although it’s probably not popular with warblers, there is always a chance one will stop for a quick eat.

Magnolia Warbler

Don’t chase away insects

Having insects in your yard isn’t always desirable, but it’s a great way to lure in warblers. By staying away from pesticides, your yard will be inviting to warblers looking for snacks. Oak trees also attract a variety of insects, so having one in your backyard is like a beacon for warblers.

Use black oil sunflower seeds

Like most insectivores when food gets tough to come by, warblers will occasionally eat black oil sunflower seeds to supplement their diet. This usually only happens during fall migration when insects aren’t as ubiquitous.

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.