With natural habitats declining in Britain, gardens are more important now than ever for birds. But first, you need to attract birds to your garden. Here are a few ways you can achieve this…
Regularly fill bird feeders
This may sound like stating the obvious, but regularly filling your bird feeders will keep your feather friends always coming back for more. Knowing that your garden has a consistent supply of food will make them want to visit more often. Using a mix of foods will also help attract birds, as a variety of tastes will encourage birds to come back for something different each time. Try a mix of sunflower seeds, canary seeds, hemp and husk free oats. If you want to avoid pesky pigeons, avoid using foods that contain a lot of wheat, which they love.
Protect bird food from predators
It’s important that you keep your feeders safe and out of reach from predators at all times, as birds won’t want to visit your garden if they know that it’s unsafe. Try putting your feeder next to some cover to hide it from predators like cats or squirrels, such as a tree, a hedge or a climber-covered fence. Also, hanging it above a prickly shrub can help deter cats. You should also try moving your feeder now and then to keep predators returning to the same spot to take food.
Put a nest box in your garden
This time of year is perfect for putting up nest boxes, as birds use the winter to scope out spots to breed for the springtime. Providing with a safe and secure nest box for the winter will encourage them to return to your garden, as they’ll have made themselves at home in your box. You should also make sure to regularly clean your nest box each winter. Remove old nests and clean the boxes with hot water to kill parasites. This will help encourage birds to return to your garden each year.
Put a birdbath in your garden
Birds need a supply of water at all times to drink and bathe in, but a birdbath is especially useful for your feathery friends in the winter. Bathing makes their feathers easier to preen, keeping them waterproof and insulating, which will be helpful during the cold winter months. Make sure to regularly change and refill with cold water, and keep an eye out for the water freezing over. If this happens, defrost with hot water.
Plant bird-friendly plants
Feeders, nest boxes and birdbaths are all well and good, but they’re no use if birds can’t feel like they’re in a natural habitat. There are plenty of bird-friendly plants to place in your garden that can help your local birds feel right at home. Mixed hedges of hawthorn and holly, ivy-covered arches and pergolas offer shelter and fruity treats for birds. You can also try specimen trees such as bird cherry or crab apple.