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Home » Wildlife » Attracting Garden Birds

Attracting Garden Birds

Attracting birds into you garden is not difficult once you understand that it’s a case of give and take. Birds need a reason to visit your garden, whether it’s food, shelter or somewhere to make their home, and it’s up to you to make them feel welcome.

Feeding birds

One of the best and most simple ways to feed garden birds is to install a bird table. It won’t take the birds long to realise what it’s for! The best bird tables come complete with a roof to keep the rations dry and edible, it will also save you having to clean up mushy bread and seeds. A supply of clean, fresh water is also very important. When you first start trying to attract birds into your garden, put down a little food to begin with and increase the portions as more birds appear.

A mixture of seeds will attract a variety of bird species and most birds will find something to their taste. Cereals, cheese, dried fruit and bread-crumbs will also go down well but do avoid mouldy bread. Fat balls are a favourite with tits but avoid putting out raw meat as it is likely to attract rats instead. Black sunflower seeds and sunflower hearts are ideal for attracting chaffinches, green finches, tits and sparrows.

Positioning the bird table

Situate the bird table away from fences and walls to discourage lurking cats from ambushing the feeding birds, if you have a cat in the family make sure it has a bell fitted to its collar. Either grow a climbing rose up the supporting post or insert it within a length of plastic pipe to further discourage cats and squirrels from reaching the feeding table. Bear in mind that some species such as collared doves and chaffinches prefer to eat from the ground.

Bird feeders

A wire mesh feeder is the only safe way of providing peanuts, a popular food amongst sparrows, tits, green finches and woodpeckers. Try to avoid the cheapest peanuts as they often contain high levels of toxins, get them from a proper bird food supplier instead. If you find the peanuts go moldy in the feeder, check to make sure it has drainage holes and only fill it with a sufficient amount of peanuts for a single day of feeding. Try positioning the feeder close to other branches so the birds have a choice of perches from which to feed.

Birds will always prefer natural food so if you have berry producing shrubs and trees in your garden, you can maximise the fruit crop by avoiding heavy pruning. During the winter months, turn over the compost heap and allow the birds to rummage for insects and worms.

Planting for birds

The plant species in your garden can play an important role in attracting and keeping birds in your garden. Hedge species such as hawthorn, cotoneaster and pyrancantha produce fruit which will attract blackbirds and thrushes, prickly hedges such as berberis, holly and hawthorn offer ideal nesting sites for many species of birds. Plant a variety of hedge species and allow them to grow without trimming so they produce more blossom and fruit.

Conifers also offer ideal nesting sites for birds if allowed to grow to a reasonable height and spread. Yew and juniper are ideal and provide the dense habitat preferred by many species of birds.