CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – With the advent of spring and warmer weather the air is filled with sounds of insects and birds.

Some people put out feeders with suet, nuts, seeds and fruit to attract birds, but feeders are also a magnet for unwanted animals including bears, coyotes, wild turkeys, and rodents. Putting out food can also make birds dependent on human help for survival. Birds can be injured or killed when flying into the windows of houses or attacked by house cats.

The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife offers some suggestions on how to bring songbirds to your yard and garden without using food products.

Birds eat insects, so it is important to plant native trees, flowers and fruit-bearing shrubs that attract insects and provide a location for nesting birds:

  • Oaks—white oaks are the best species to promote native insects
  • Black willow and pussy willow
  • Black cherry and common chokecherry
  • Birches
  • Dogwoods
  • Hollies
  • Elderberry
  • Mulberry
  • Juniper
  • Viburnums
  • Shadbush/serviceberry/amalachier
  • Blackberry, raspberry, blueberry, and aronia berry

Some people will hang sugar water feeders for hummingbirds. Instead, consider planting native species of wild bergamot and red columbine that have colorful, tubular flowers that will entice hummingbirds and butterflies as well as trumpet honeysuckle, cardinal flower, spotted impatiens, Canada lily, and native azaleas and rhododendrons. 

Birds are attracted to moving or dripping water. Consider adding a birdbath or fountain to your yard. Birdbaths should be no more than two inches (2″) deep. Water should be replaced weekly to keep it clean.

Natural habitat provides a safe place for birds to nest and rest as well as escape from predators. Another option is to add wood or wicker birdhouses for nesting in the summer and roosting during cold winter nights. 

Go to the Fisheries and Wildlife website for more information on how to protect and manage your property to support wildlife in a natural environment.