There are many ways to attract birds to your yard, ranging from the “traditional” (bird baths, bird feeders), to the “committed” (providing nest boxes or “purple martin condos”). One of the most environmentally sustainable ways is to provide what all birds need (food, water, shelter) by recreating native habitats using native plants.
If you have the time and commitment, a simple bird feeder is a great way to attract birds to your yard. If you can complement the food with a water source (i.e., a bird bath), you will greatly increase the chances of more birds visiting you. Here in the intense heat and humidity of a South Florida summer, though, it can be a daunting task to perform the daily maintenance of having a traditional bird feeder or bird bath. And forget about a suet feeder; it would melt!
If you want the birds to do more than visit, though, you need to provide them with shelter. For example, you can add nest boxes to attract various species. 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.