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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The Latest Comments

  • I am excited to have my daughter’s tree this year, since my landlord has removed the lovely yew next to my patio, which was the only shelter for birds at my feeder.
    by pmalcpoet, Mon, 20 Dec 2021
  • Goldfinches will continue as long as Swiss chard is available. I'm watching one eating chard right now (mid-November in Vermont).
    by Brian Tremback, Sun, 14 Nov 2021
  • Birds are on the decline though sunflowers are rarely touched and for weeks hardly .eaten. I'll try a few sparing nuts on the table and a fat ball broken for jackdaws and tits but mealworms were a summer favourite being my go to choice
    by Paul Harabaras, Thu, 04 Nov 2021
  • I’ve been enjoying goldfinches eating coneflower/ echinacea seeds in my new pollinator garden! I will leave the plants out all winter for them if the seeds keep that long? Or should I deadhead and put them in a dry area? Im in CT and thought they migrated, but didn’t know they put in winter coats! What do they eat in winter without bird feeders?
    by Anne Sheffield, Sat, 04 Sep 2021
  • Hi Gary, I will pass your question along to Birdsquatch next time I see him. He knows infinitely more about nocturnal wildlife than I do. Where do you live? That's pretty important in figuring out the answer. But the thief could be raccoons, deer, or flying squirrels. Do you live in the woods? Are there trees near your feeder, or must the culprit climb a shepherd's hook or pole? Dawn Hewitt, Watching Backyard Birds
    by Dawn Hewitt, Mon, 30 Aug 2021