Oct 23, 2019 | Featured Web Article

What to Consider When Providing Cover for Birds

To attract more birds to your yard and provide ample cover for most of them, try to install a diverse array of native shrubs and trees.

You're likely already well-versed in the art of providing food and water for backyard birds. But do you know how to effectively provide cover to attract and protect birds? There are several important factors to take into consideration when installing shrubs or positioning feeder stations in your yard.


The cover you provide for birds visiting your feeders needs to be close enough to provide refuge if a hawk or other predator suddenly appears in your backyard. If a bird has to scramble several yards to get to safety, the cover is not going to be as effective as something available a few feet away.


Bad news for topiary enthusiasts: If you can't shine a flashlight through your shrubs because the branches and foliage are too thick, they will not serve as good cover for birds. Make sure that birds would be able to enter and move about the shrubbery.


In general, an older tree or bush offers more cover than something younger of the same variety. Position your feeders near the older, more robust greenery in your yard.


Are you hoping that a specific tree or shrub will house a nest during the breeding season? Birds might select it if it provides adequate shade and protection from the wind and rain. Also, the less likely predators are to notice nestlings among the branches, the better.

Roosting & Preening

Just like humans prefer to be secure in their beds with a roof over their head when they're sleeping, birds have to feel safe when they're roosting. And similar to how we typically don't take showers in the streets, birds need cover to minimize their vulnerability as they preen.

Plant Diversity

Different species of birds are the most comfortable in different species of plants. To attract more birds to your yard and provide ample cover for most of them, try to install a diverse array of native shrubs and trees.

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  • Love listeningto both songs and calls from birds in our woody neighborhood. The two types of birds I immediately recognize are the cardinals and the chickadees. Yesterday afternoon too, I heard a woodpecker. Then it’s time to check the birdfeeders and the birdbath. Then In no time at all the cardinals and chickadees arrive, as if they had been watching me. As it gets busier around the feeders, I also hear thé screeching of the blue jays. I even saw a couple of robins checking out our lawn....spring has arrived as the last pat gesofisticeerde snow and ice melt away.
    by louisabt, Sun, 08 Mar 2020
  • I am wondering about existing nests for Phoebes. I have two outdoor aisle entries to my barn and there are old Phoebe nests up. They ignore them each year and build new nests adjacent to the old, but space is running out. Should I knock down the old nests so they can rebuild?
    by [email protected], Sun, 02 Feb 2020
  • Just wondering, should we put anything in the bottom of the box...twigs, clippings, leaves....anything at all?
    by Hebb, Tue, 28 Jan 2020
  • New to birding...newbie question. We spotted what we thought was a Sapsucker at our patio feeders in December. The folks at our birding supply store told us that Sapsuckers are only here in Summer months and what we saw was a Flicker. I thought I new what a Flicker was and this did not look like a Flicker. It was thinner and more smooth looking but did have the Woodpecker Bill.
    by Edmund Steinman, Wed, 08 Jan 2020
  • We just signed up and get your magazine via email. Will we be receiving a printed copy?Ed [email protected]
    by Edmund Steinman, Wed, 08 Jan 2020