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Dinosaur Discoveries

Gardening for Birds

Attract migrating birds to your home with a container garden.


  1. Select a container: You don’t need to buy a special container, simply recycle anything that will hold soil: a bucket, a tea kettle, or an old fish tank.
  2. Choose your location: Gardens may typically grow in a park or backyard, but if your space is limited consider these locations: a window sill, a rooftop, the sidewalk, a balcony or a front stoop. Be sure to pick a spot that has ample light for the plants you are growing.
  3. Pick your plants: A variety of plants attract birds. Here are some popular flowers to consider putting in your garden: sunflowers, nasturtium, coneflower, columbine, chicory blossoms, or Queen Anne’s lace. These flowers are both beautiful and a source of food for some birds. Plant native plants whenever possible.
  4. Planting time! Roll up your sleeves, time to get a little dirty. Begin by lining the bottom of the container with gravel to help drainage. Use a potting mix specific to your plant’s needs and fill the container with soil. Place your seeds in the soil and water. If your container is large it is a good idea to place it in its growing location before potting.
  5. Monitor your garden’s progress: Encourage young children to be active gardeners and check on their plants daily to ensure proper water and sunlight levels. Extend a child’s learning with a progress chart that includes the following data: planting date, date of first sprout and first bloom, height of plant and number of birds observed daily. Remember, the seeds are part of a bird’s diet, so be sure to leave the flowers out even after losing their petals!

Take it Further

  • Create a bird bath or bird house!
  • Play a recording of song birds close to your garden.
  • Make and place a bird feeder next to your garden.
  • Become a citizen scientist and let scientists know how birds are using your habitat. Celebrate Urban Birds is a great project for beginners everywhere, and offers free resources to support your new gardening and birding efforts!

This activity was created in partnership with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

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