Create A Bird Friendly Garden
Although many of us leave bird food in our gardens to attract birds there are many other ways to attract lots of birds to your garden.
Natural Bird Food
Although we are all accustomed to birds eating the bird food, we leave out for them, what we call bird food is only part of their diet. Bird food includes a wide variety of items birds consume in the ‘wild’.
This is mostly insects, seeds, fruits, and berries. Some species may have a favourite food item and be very adept at obtaining their favourite snack – for example, the song thrush is famous for its love of snails and the rather gruesome practice of smashing snails against rocks to extract the soft parts inside the shell.
Other birds aren’t fussy at all and will eat whatever food is most abundant. Some birds only eat plant matter such as seeds and berries, whilst others prefer something meatier and look for bigger bugs such as worms and beetles. Some birds, such as those in the corvid family (crows, magpies, rooks) are scavengers with a taste for more substantial meals. This is why they can often be observed eating animals such as hedgehogs or rabbits that have met an unfortunate end on the roads.
The point is the food we provide birds is just a small portion of their diet and nearly all birds prefer their natural diet. Therefore, if you aim to make your garden more diverse and full of things birds would eat in the wild, you are guaranteed to not only get more birds but a wider range of species too.
The best way to do this is by increasing the variety of plants, trees and shrubs in your garden. Try to feature British native species and species that are known for being ‘wildlife friendly’ in your bird friendly garden design.
By increasing the number and variety of plants in your garden, you will provide habitat and food for a wide range of insects, which in turn will attract more birds. Bugs mean birds!
Some plants and trees will attract birds directly. For example, the teasel (Dipsacus Fullonum) is not only an excellent plant for pollinators such as bees, but the seed heads are extremely attractive to birds. Plant teasels in your garden and you are guaranteed visits from Goldfinch who have just the right size beak to extract the tiny seeds.
Trees also hold a lot of value for birds. Tress not only provide cover and a place to nest, but they can also be food.
If you want to plant a tree in your garden the most beneficial species you can plant for birds are holly, rowan, or crab apple. All three of these trees produce fruits or berries that birds love to eat. They also attract pollinators and insects’ birds prefer to feed to their young. Plus, they look pretty so you benefit too!
Nesting & Roosting
All birds need a safe place to nest and roost. You can create more spaces in your garden for this by increasing the number of trees and shrubs you have. You may already notice that seemingly basic plants such as conifers, although they provide little in the way of food for birds or insects, are highly valued by birds for the thick cover they provide.
If your garden is too small to accommodate more trees and shrubs, many species of bird will adopt nest boxes for nesting. Just ensure the nest boxes are situated high enough so that predators are unable to reach them, aren’t in direct sunlight, and are kept in good clean order.
Other Ways To Attract Birds
Aside from creating a space for birds to roost, nest or eat, you could try providing water. Water is important for all wildlife from birds to insects.
Water is vital for birds, especially in the summer when water may be scarce, and birds struggle to stay hydrated. Not only do birds need water to drink, but they also need to bathe on a regular basis to keep their feathers free from dust and pests.
Water can be provided in a variety of ways – from an old sink to an old whisky barrel but the best way to provide water for all types of garden visitors is in a shallow container. Not only is this safer (any individuals falling into the water will be able to get back out) but birds will find it much easier to bathe and drink in water they can stand up in.
Another way to make your garden a haven for birds is to try not to let cats wander too much. This is easier said than done but birds will be much warier visiting a garden where cats are always present.
Of course, in addition to all this advice, you can continue to provide purchased bird food to help attract more birds to your garden.
Visit our online bird feed shop for a wide range of bird food, available with free next day delivery.