Birds help us to monitor the health of ecosystems. A large diversity of birds indicates a large diversity of living organisms (e.g. plants, insects, flowers, seeds, habitat, etc.) within the areas in which they live. There are several beneficial reasons for inviting birds into your Permaculture design. They are natural predators of insects which may cause damage to plants; they aid in seed dispersal (often introducing a wide diversity of natural plants without the need for additional labor); they aid in soil fertility through the return of manure, feathers, egg shells, and helping to dig the soil; and, they can act as an ‘early warning’ system when there are predators on site (e.g. snakes, birds of prey, or wild animals).
There are several ways to help to attract birds to your site. The most important is to provide habitat. This can include the establishment of live-fencing or hedgerows, planting native species, and the designing of diverse layers in tree systems (e.g. canopy, shrub, climbing vines, etc.) You can also provide things such as bird baths, water features, bird houses, bird feeders, and a diversity of nesting materials.
When designing on larger sites, or within communities, the creation of ponds, check-dams, wetlands, marshes, or even fish ponds can help to attract water-loving species of birds.
The use of guild systems which mimic natural patterns are essential for creating bird habitat. By establishing zone-4 woodlots and zone-5 forest systems, we can also attract larger predatory birds and woodland species.
Use a diversity of design ideas to attract birds and you will quickly begin to experience the benefits which they provide. By allowing nature to do the work, we save time, energy, and money. Attracting birds into a site also provides hours of entertainment, beauty, and a daily chorus of nature’s music.