How To Attract Wild Birds to Your Garden.
The first thing to realise is that a wild bird isn’t just for Christmas. If you want to attract birds into your garden it should be an all year round effort. Putting some scraps out during the winter might be great for the odd desperate bird in search for food but it won’t bring birds to your garden in any real numbers unless it is a regular food source. There are also a whole host of actions you can take to encourage birds into your garden and make it a haven for wild birds of all kinds.
Part of the reason for attracting birds into your garden is for them to help with your pest control and weed maintenance. It is now thought that continuing to feed them during the summer will not reduce the number of insects they eat, because you will have a larger number of birds to do it for you. Although the number of different bird foods and mixes can seem quite complicated, it can be simplified down quite easily. The main types of feed are: Seed, Peanuts, and Fat, with Nyger or Thistle seed. This simple approach is reflected in our own feeder ranges.
The best place to start is with a Seed Feeder, using a good generic seed mix which would normally include; Sunflower Seed, Canary Seed, Hemp, and Husk Free Oats. The only other standard ingredient is wheat, although I would personally suggest you stay clear of mixes with high levels of wheat as they will attract Wood Pigeons. The seed would classically be dispensed through a tubular Seed Feeder which consists of a solid tube with holes at the bottom for the birds to get at the seeds.
It is important to clean the feeders regularly to avoid the spread of disease and the build up of bacteria, just in the same way you don’t like eating from a dirty plate that lots of other people have eaten from (although birds are not quite as fussy as you will be!). Also hanging feeders out of reach of predators is highly recommended, you are trying to feed the birds, not the cat!
When keeping or attracting any kind of animals it is often a good idea to think about what you would need, and Wild Birds are no different. Most people like a drink with their meal, and just as you need to drink lots of fresh water, and bath regularly, so do birds. The best way to do this is to provide a bird bath; these come in a whole host of different styles and materials and price ranges. Luckily birds aren’t as picky as we might be, so simply turning a bin lid upside down will be like installing a brand new swimming pool as far as the birds are concerned. There should be something to suit your wallet and the size and style of your garden. It is also important in the winter to ensure there is a source of unfrozen water. You can’t drink frozen water in the winter just as much as you can’t drink in a drought in the summer.
Think of plants as restaurant waiting areas. They allow the birds to check out the menu without being committed to eating there. It allows them to check out the lie of the land or await their table to become free in comparative comfort and safety, as well as providing a post dinner lounge for them to relax in. Lots of bare decking and fences is a terrifying prospect for birds such as blue tits, thrushes and wrens. For a start try to provide a nice mix of bushes trees, and climbers, for the different types of birds you want to attract.
So far the birds have wined, dined, and relaxed in the restaurant lounge, now it's time to go and get the mortgage. Nest boxes provide a place for a number of different birds to roost and nest. The earlier the box can go up the better as birds will spend the winter checking out available real estate. The winter is also a good time to take down any boxes and give them a good clean so that they are nice and hygienic for any prospective owners. Just like Bird Baths, Nest Boxes now come in a whole host of styles and sizes, although if you want to attract a specific bird it is important to check what type of box they like as they will only see it as a possible nesting site if everything is just right. Some like large holes, some like small. During the nesting season you can help by putting out extra materials for them to use, such as sheep’s wool, or other natural fibres.
Now all your hard work is done, you can sit back and enjoy the results. Why not take part in the many Garden Bird watch schemes and events that BTO and RSPB run to help you learn the differences between each bird and help make a difference to their long term conservation.