Wisconsin is one of the nation's hot spots for birding. The flyways for migratory birds along the Mississippi and the Great Lakes, as well as some fabulous lakes and wetlands bring many species through the state. If you are just getting into birds, here are a few tips to help you get started in your own backyard.
Indigo Bunting checks out our tube feeder.
Find a decent bird book you can use. A good guide will help you identify the birds you already have. I recommend something fairly small, perhaps one which doesn't have all of the species (you are unlikely to encounter all of North America's vast area of birds in your lawn), and make sure it has some really clear pictures. I strong recommend Stan Tekiela's Birds of... books. These field guides are broken down by state, are compact, and organized by color which makes finding the birds a snap.
Set reasonable expectations. Read through your guide and understand the birds and habitats. If there's no water nearby then you are unlikely to see much waterfowl; if there are few mature tress in your neighborhood then birds like Woodpeckers will be harder to come by. Knowing these things may drive your decision making on the next steps.
Feed the birds. Feeding solutions vary widely. You will need to decide what kind of feeder you want to use and what type of food to provide. Black oil sunflower is a pretty good catch all seed and can be fed from a variety of feeders.(See other posts on feeding the birds)
The American Goldfinch loves Coneflower and Black Eyed Susan.
Water the birds. Birds need water to bathe and drink. If you decide to setup a bird bath be sure to keep it clean. This can be a trying ask when keeping up with algae or messy birds. You may also decide you want to heat the bird bath during the winter.
Shelter the birds. There are a host of different bird houses which can be purchased to fit the needs of different species. Evergreens and woody shrubs also provide good cover for nesting or roosting birds. (Read more about bird houses.)
Landscape for the birds. Trees like Oaks which produce acorns can be very attractive to birds like Blue Jays, Woodpeckers, and Chickadees. Trees and shrubs with fruit like Hawthorns or Serviceberry may be attractive to Waxwings, Robins, or Gray Catbirds. Native wildflowers may attract Finches, Sparrows, and Hummingbirds. ((See our favorite plants for attracting birds)
Pace yourself. You don't need to all of these things at once, and some of things may simply take time. Trees don't mature overnight, and even after putting up a feeder it may take time for the birds to recognize that it's there. Be patient and enjoy.