How to attract birds to your garden
Birds are wonderful visitors to have in your garden – they’re relaxing to watch, can help rid your lawn of weeds, are brilliant at eating pesky pests and can also help with flower pollination.
Plus, attracting them to your garden couldn’t be easier. Whether you have a small city garden or a large lawn in the countryside, there are a whole host of ways you can encourage birds to come and visit your patch.
Take a look at our top tips for attracting birds to your garden.
Credit: Kay Roxby / Alamy Stock Photo
1. Set up some bird feeders
One of the best ways to encourage birds to visit has got to be by installing some bird feeders in your garden. There is a wealth of different bird feeds available to attract different bird species, so you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to attracting them to your garden. Some of the foods available include:
- Suet balls - these are perfect for during the winter as they provide birds with the calories they need to keep them going during the long, cold months. They are a favourite with robins, blue tits and long-tailed tits.
- Sunflower hearts - these are easy for birds to eat and are rich in protein. They are a popular choice with siskins, house sparrows, robins and finches.
- Niger seeds - these tiny black seeds will need to be placed in a specialist feeder as they’re so small. They are the food of choice for siskins, greenfinches and goldfinches.
- Mealworms - whether you choose dried or live, mealworms are another great addition to your garden restaurant. They are a hit with blackbirds, starlings and robins in particular.
- Peanuts - peanuts are full of protein and fat, so are another great option to feed birds. Having peanuts on your feeder is likely to attract tits, finches and siskins.
You may have to wait a little while before the birds come to visit your feeder, but once they know it’s there, it’s highly likely they will return. Ensure you keep it regularly topped up and place it somewhere safe, where birds can spot any immediate signs of danger. This is ideally near to a tall hedge or tree which can provide cover. Avoid low cover as cats can ambush birds this way.
It's also worth thinking about having more than one feeding station, to attract different species. If you a have tree in your garden it's a great option to hang some bird feeders from its branches, or you could choose a freestanding feeder if not. Some birds like to feed from the ground, such as blackbirds and chaffinches, so you could provide them with a ground feeding tray.
2. Provide fresh water
Water is of course vital for birds’ survival, as they need it for drinking and bathing. So, providing them with a fresh, clean water source is a great way to entice them into your garden.
You could place a bird bath in your garden or even putting a bowl of water out will suffice. Place it somewhere shaded and where birds can have a good view of potential predators. Water is best kept in a shallow container, no deeper than two inches. Refresh it as often as you can and remove any ice during the winter.
3. Give birds somewhere to nest
Another great way to encourage birds to your garden is by providing them with somewhere safe and secure to nest. Adding a few nesting boxes in sheltered areas of your garden, away from potential predators, is the best way to do this. Don’t put your nesting box in direct sunlight or where it will be prone to strong winds – somewhere between north- and east-facing is best. There are a few different nesting boxes available, depending on the species of birds you’d like to attract, including:
- Open-fronted nest boxes - these are ideal for robins or wrens, and should be placed low to the ground, hidden by shrubs and other plants.
- Classic small-holed nest boxes - these are the traditional nest boxes, featuring a small hole at the top for birds to enter through. They are suitable for a wide variety of small garden birds and should be placed 2-4 metres up a tree or wall.
- Sparrow terraces - designed for sparrows who breed in colonies, these nest boxes or ‘sparrow terraces’ are basically three nest boxes in one. They should be placed high up, under the eaves of the roof.
4. Plant some bird-friendly plants
Create an oasis for birds in your own back garden by planting a variety of bird-friendly plants, trees and shrubs. These will help to provide further shelter and nesting sites, as well as a natural food source. Berry-rich trees and shrubs like rowan, hawthorn, guelder rose and holly are all great natural food sources and also help to provide shelter.
Plants with an abundance of seeds are another great choice, such as teasels or sunflowers. Ivy and honeysuckle are also popular with birds – they provide dense cover, fruits and attract insects for birds to feast on.
Another option is to plant some wildflowers to attract the insects that birds love to feed on. That way you can supply birds with food while filling your garden with gorgeous flower displays.
Follow these simple tips and you’re sure to have a flurry of feathered friends visiting your garden in no time. By providing them with the food, shelter and water they need, you can help conserve species and reverse the trends around declining populations.
Credit: Arterra Picture Library / Alamy Stock Photo