How to attract more birds to your garden
It is said that birds evolved from dinosaurs. These ancient creatures bring an unmistakable benefit to our physical and mental health. Bird watching is a very relaxing and de-stressing activity bringing us closer to nature. Furthermore, birds provide us with a feeling of freedom, belonging and caring, and give us a reason to enter the outdoors to refill their feeders.
With that in mind, it would make sense to attract more of these beautiful animals to our gardens. But before we share our tips on attracting more birds to your outdoors, there are some considerations. The wildlife works as a whole ecosystem. Small organisms and insects attract larger predatory animals and birds. Try to remember this if you decide to bring more wildlife into your garden.
How to attract more birds in 4 basic steps
- Plant bird-friendly plants and hedges
- Provide bird feeders
- Supply water
- Provide additional nesting grounds
Plant bird-friendly plants and hedges
Bird-friendly shrubs and trees provide food supply to birds in the form of berries. Among the favourites are holly, hawthorn, bird cherry, and rowan. They are mostly small trees and can be found grafted on small rootstocks, making them suitable for any sized garden, and self-pollinating varieties are also widely available. Plant them in a position where you can see them from your preferred window.
According to the old saying, when loads of berries are produced, the winter will be cold, although this mostly applies to holly trees. It is nature’s way to provide birds with extra calories before cold winter months.
Hedges provide shelter from predators as well as opportunities for birds to build their nest. While evergreen hedges are a viable option when it comes to your privacy, mixed deciduous hedges are a preferred source of food for birds. Mixed hedges generally include holly (although they are mostly evergreens), hawthorn, and hazelnuts. Bear in mind that hazelnuts attract squirrels, but as we said earlier, wildlife works as one ecosystem and it’s quite impossible to only attract a sole species of an animal.
Climbing plants with dense foliage such as wisteria and honeysuckle can also attract birds. Even if they don’t produce warm coloured blossoms, in direct sunlight they seem to be a magnet for birds and they like nesting in them. You would be surprised how many birds’ nests I have come across that were in wisteria.
Provide bird feeders
Bird feeders are an excellent source of additional food supply during winter. It might take some time for the birds to acclimatize to the presence of food in your garden, so don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t happen overnight. Based on this fact, it is good for our mental health to wire in patience as one of the core skills for all aspects of our lives.
Bird feeders can contain different types of food, depending on the type of birds you would like to attract. Sparrows and robins like to feed on sunflower seeds, providing them with protein and fat, keeping them warm in the cold winter. Meat worms are a very good source of protein and attract mostly blackbirds. Peanuts in the bird feeder are providing our feathered friends fat and protein and attract finches among the others. Suet balls also called fat balls are packed with healthy fats and are favoured by robins.
For the best results, provide at least two bird feeders located near the shelter created by the dense foliage of plants. You can’t hang them in the trees or even hedges. If you don’t feel like spending extra money investing in bird feeders, you can place the food in plastic saucers. They are usually much cheaper but remember to place them close to shelter and importantly, above ground level.
Water is an essential substance for all living organisms including birds. Birds not only use water for drinking but also for bathing too. They prefer to drink and bathe in shallow rather than deep.
Again, you could use plastic or a terracotta saucer from your garden pots. More expensive options would include the purchase of a bird bath. A strategically positioned bird bath in front of evergreen shrubs with dark green foliage can create an instant focal point, enhancing your garden.
Beneficially, we recommend allocating an area close to a shelter to position the water supply.
Provide additional nesting ground
Birds feel comfortable in a safe environment where they can lay eggs and raise their chicks. Nesting boxes located higher up in the trees can give birds and their young a hideaway spot. The small hole equipping nesting boxes disallows predators such as cats to enter.
Furthermore, the wooden nest boxes last for years making them a more durable material, also being hard to remove when firmly fitted to a tree as opposed to traditional birds’ nests.
Note: in the warmer climate of the southern hemisphere, nest boxes are prone to snake attacks.
What else can I do to attract birds?
As mentioned earlier, wildlife is one ecosystem. Attract smaller animals or organisms to increase the number of predatory birds feeding on them. You can do this by including a pond in the corner of your garden, which is irresistible to insects. If you choose to keep fish in the pond, ensure to include protection from herons.
Well maintained topsoil in your garden is also beneficial as it accommodates a large number of earthworms and larva, the irresistible snack for most bird species.
Birds are ancient creatures able to put a smile on our faces when we least expect it. Luckily, birds are animals, meaning they are driven by their instinct. If you give them what they want, they will become your loyal companions for years to come.