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With the Big Garden Birdwatch just around the corner, running from the 26th-28th January, there has never been a better time to try and attract more birds to your garden. Whether you have a large countryside garden, or a small space in a city location, there are many different ways you can encourage birds to visit. Let’s have a look at some of our top tips for attracting birds to your garden.
1. Set up some bird feeders
Feeding birds in winter is really important to help them get through the colder weather. Food shortages can occur at any time throughout the year, so keep bird feeders topped up all year round if you can. There are so many different types of bird feeds available to attract different species, so here are a few to get you started:
- Suet balls - these are high-calorie, so they are perfect for supplementing birds in the winter. They tend to attract robins and blue tits.
- Mealworms - these can either be dried or live and tend to be a hit with blackbirds, starlings, and robins.
- Peanuts - these are full of protein and fats and are usually favoured by tits, finches, and siskins.
Be patient when it comes to adding bird feeders to your garden, the birds may take a while to realise that you have food readily available for them to eat. However once they know it’s there, they are very likely to return so keep them topped-up.
2. Give birds somewhere to nest
Another great way to attract birds into your garden is to pop some bird boxes up in your trees. By providing them somewhere safe and secure to nest, they are likely to create a family right in front of your eyes. Make sure you place nesting boxes in sheltered, protected areas of your garden, out of the way from direct sunlight.
Open-fronted nest boxes are best if you want to attract robins and wrens, and should be placed low to the ground (hidden by shrubs). Small-holed nest boxes are the traditional type, with a small hole at the top for birds to enter through. Lots of small garden birds favour this type of nest box.
3. Provide fresh water
Like with all animals, birds require water for their survival (bathing as well as drinking). Providing a regularly clean water source is a great way to entice birds into your garden. You don’t have to invest in a fancy bird bath either, simply a tub or bowl of water will be enough (no deeper than 2 inches). Keep it as fresh as possible, and remember to remove any ice as the temperatures plummet.
4. Plant bird-friendly plants
Berry-rich trees and shrubs are incredibly attractive to most species of birds as not only do they provide a natural food source, but birds can also use them to shelter and nest in. Hawthorn, holly and rowan are great examples that you can plant in your garden. Plants that naturally contain lots of seeds are another great choice, such as sunflowers.
Another way to attract birds to your garden is to plant some wildflowers, to attract insects that the birds can then feed on. These can add a glimpse of colour to your garden at the same time as supplying birds with the nutrients they need.
5. Protect them from other predators
Birds won’t visit your garden if they don’t feel safe, even if you provide them with an adequate supply of food and water. They will check for predators (like cats), and will need a safe place they can run to quickly. It is best to place bird feeders next to a covered area, trees or hedges. Another option is to plant a prickly shrub just below a bird feeder to help deter cats from the area. Moving your bird feeders regularly will also prevent larger predators such as sparrowhawks from attacking birds while they are feeding.
6. Leave out nesting materials
While hanging nesting boxes is the best way to keep birds in your garden, their natural instinct will often encourage them to build their own nests. If you regularly leave nesting materials in your garden, birds will come and collect them and nest nearby (especially if you have also tempted them in with bird feeders).
Some of the best nesting materials you can provide for birds are: twigs, leaves, grass clippings, moss, straw, feathers, and groomed animal fur.
Encouraging Birds To Stay In Your Garden
The idea behind the Big Garden Birdwatch is to help get an idea of how garden birds are faring. With birds facing so many more challenges, it is essential to know which species are on an incline or decline. Even simply adding a bird feeder to your garden can help play a part in reversing the population reduction, so keep topping yours up!