I returned this week from a birding FAM trip for almost 2 weeks in Guatemala, where I saw some amazingly beautiful birds and got to visit some of the coffee fincas and preserves that are working to protect, preserve, and create habitat for birds so that they can attract international birders to come and visit this beautiful country.

On several occasions I was asked for my advice about how they can make their farms more attractive to birds (and to birders by extension).

My advice? The same thing I’ve been teaching wildlife gardeners around the US: plant your garden to supply all of the essential elements for birds and other wildlife, and learn to create welcoming habitat for birds so that you will attract more of them to take up residence in your yard.

This means going beyond bird feeders and adding those plants to your garden that supply food and shelter to birds.

Bird feeders require a lot of maintenance, which for these fincas (farms) can add up to significant labor costs as well as the cost of bird seed, food, and sugar to make nectar for hummingbird feeders.

Here are some ways to attract birds to your farm:

Plant native shrubs and trees that produce berries and seeds as food sources for birds.

Offer water: Install a bird bath or small pond to provide water for drinking and bathing.

Create shelter: Provide nesting sites, such as birdhouses or thickets of native shrubs, for birds to nest and hide from predators.

Minimize pesticide use: Pesticides can be toxic to birds, so minimize their use or choose least toxic options when necessary.

Plant native vegetation: Native plants support the entire food chain, from insects to birds, and provide a variety of habitats for birds to feed, nest, and hide.

Preserve existing habitats: Maintain or create hedgerows, wetlands, or other habitats that provide shelter and food for birds.

Participate in citizen science: Participate in bird monitoring programs, such as the North American Breeding Bird Survey or the Christmas Bird Count, to help track bird populations and inform conservation efforts.

Educate others: Share your knowledge and enthusiasm for birds with others to help raise awareness of their importance and promote conservation efforts.

Attracting birds to your farm not only adds beauty and excitement to your property, but also supports the overall health of the local ecosystem by maintaining biodiversity.

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