As a homeowner you might think to attract birds to your yard with accessories, ranging from the “traditional” (bird baths, bird feeders), to the “committed” (providing nest boxes or “purple martin condos”). BUT, the most environmentally sustainable way is to provide what all birds need (food, water, shelter) by recreating native habitats using native plants.
Although in other areas, you might think about using a bird feeder to attract birds, here in South Florida the best way to attract birds is providing a water source. If you don’t have a natural pond or lake, installing a bird bath will greatly increase the chances of more birds visiting you. Especially in the intense heat and humidity of a South Florida summer make sure to clean and refill the water daily.
If you want the birds to do more than visit, you could try to add nest boxes to attract various species, though most report that starlings typically take over nesting boxes installed in our area. Even so, if you want to try, boxes with custom sized openings to admit/exclude various species can be found commercially on line, or you can build them yourself.
A more long-lasting alternative to bird feeders or nest boxes, though, is to let Mother Nature attract the birds for you! All it takes is a little sweat equity, and a little research to find out what species of plants to install to attract the birds. To help you on your way, ASE has a handy flyer listing various readily available native plant species for South Florida. These plants have been chosen for their attractiveness to our native bird species; there is a mix of fruiting and flowering plants to attract nectivores and frugivores, not to mention insectivores.
Creating native habitat for the birds is a lasting home improvement that can greatly beautify your property throughout the year. For more information on how to choose and use native plants, visit the Florida Native Plant Society.