Nothing makes a garden come alive more than the sound of birdsong and the fluttering of wings swooping across your lawn. Not only are they a joy to watch, but wild birds keep our gardens free of pests, helping to balance the ecosystem and providing a glorious show for us at the same time. And they don’t ask for much… simply providing the basics of food, water and shelter will be enough to encourage any local bird to spend a little time in your own back yard. Read on to find out how you can attract more wild birds into your garden.
This is the most well known and obvious option! Providing a food source is a guaranteed way to bring birds into your garden throughout the year. There’s a myth that we should only feed birds during the winter, but our feathered friends can do with the help through the rest of the year as well. Birds like choice, so make sure you feed them a variety of mixed nuts and seeds. During the winter, they need high calorific foods such as fat balls to keep their energy levels up, so make sure these are provided.
You’ll want to place feeders somewhere high, as this will allow the birds to watch out for predators and feel safer feeding from your garden. Plant fruiting trees and shrubs to give birds a natural foraging habitat, and leave a small area of your garden to grow wild. The seeds and insects from the weeds will be a nutritious and much needed food source for the birds, no matter the time of year.
As habitats decline, more and more birds need the refuge and shelter that our gardens can provide. Making your garden a safe and secure place for birds will almost guarantee you some outside lodgers during the summer! Some birds will be happy to use bird boxes, so make the most of this and place a few around your garden.
Different species prefer different positions, although never put your nest box somewhere exposed or in direct sunlight. If you have more than one nest box, make sure these are placed well away from each other, as birds can become very territorial. If you do manage to get some tenants during the summer, check over the winter that the nest is empty and clean it out. Legally, you are only allowed to empty nest boxes during October to January (UK Countryside Act 1981), so clean it with hot water to remove parasites and put back in place for next years occupants. It is also well worth providing plenty of large plants and bushes to encourage natural nesting amongst the foliage.
Whether it’s an elaborate water feature or a simple bird bath, providing birds somewhere to wash and drink whilst feeling safe will be priceless. Place rocks and pebbles in the water to create a more natural pool for the birds, allowing them to perch if they wish. You could also provide bird baths of different depths to accommodate different sized species. Remember to clear it of ice in the winter if it freezes over.