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A guide to attracting garden birds

Gardens of all size are perfect retreats for a wide variety of fascinating birds; you may be surprised how many species that will visit your garden on a daily basis.

Some of our best-known birds visit our gardens such as blackbirds, house sparrows and robins. During the summer months, visitors such as house martins and swifts fly north to breed. During the winter season, you are likely to find bramblings, redwings and fieldfares.

Garden birds are easier to observe compared to more reserved birds that stick to the countryside. It’s important to take care of the birds that visit your garden by providing shelter, food and water and in return, you will be able to observe their avian activity.

By situating a bird table with the correct feed, green-finches and blue tits will become permanent fixtures to your garden.

Due to the loss of the countryside from over-development, a garden provides a vital habitat for birds. Pesticides mean less feed and a loss of hedgerow has deprived nesting sites, it’s vital to help our garden birds as well much as possible to prevent a decline in numbers. With a little effort, we can all contribute to improving the well-being of our local bird life.

The Garden

A well planned and managed garden that is bird friendly is truly valuable for all garden birds. It’s important to provide everything from nesting cover to feeders to create your own nature reserve.

Many birds seek sanctuary in the form of shelter and food in gardens where they may find respite from the winter weather. The UK climate is unpredictable all year round and birds; thrushes and finches to name a few, often enter towns and cities during food shortages and spells of adverse weather.

The benefits of gardens to birds

Almost every garden provides benefits for birds during the year. The smallest things can help out from the seeds produced by weeds to an overgrown bush to nest.

The lawn provides insect-eating, ground feeding and somewhere for birds to feed. A hedge is a perfect place for birds to roost and nest, flower beds provide a place to forage for seeds, birds can massively benefit from bird feed, birds baths, nest boxes, bird boxes and bird tables.

A water feature or small pond provides the perfect water source and bathing places for a wide variety of species. In addition to this, it’s a great source for wetland wildlife.

Providing shelter

Sheltered environments are best for garden birds. Birds don’t want to be hit by strong winds or sit on a feeder that blows back and forth, therefore, protection from the elements is vital.

Carefully laying out your garden to take this into consideration will attract a wider range of birds. A shelter can come from natural sources such as trees, shrubs and hedges. Other man-made shelters such as walls, trellis and fences can also be very useful for birds.

Ensure you place your feeders, nest boxes and bird tables in sheltered positions. Bushes can help to reduce the effects of the wind.

You may notice that when birds visit, they will often arrive at the same time and follow a very similar pattern. Once they get used to your garden, they will rely on certain areas of the garden to be protected from predators.

How to provide shelter

In the UK, most of the prevailing wind comes from the Southwest and can get up to strong and even gale force.

Work out the direction of South and Southwest and position hedgerow and natural cover to allow bird’s sufficient shelter.

Birds you are likely to find in your garden

For many people, the garden is the first point of contact with wildlife. For experienced bird watchers, it’s an ideal location to improve on your identification skills and study bird behaviour.

The most common birds that you are likely to find in your garden are:-

Greenfinch – They favour gardens and parks with tall yew trees, cotoneaster berries, peanut and old hedges. Males are easy to identify by their green plumage and flashes of yellow. Also known as Carduelis Chloris.

Great spotted woodpecker – the most common woodpecker to spot in your garden. They are often spotted on feeders with nuts and fat. The male has a red patch on its head. The red on the female is less visible. Also known as Dendrocopos major.

Great tit – A common garden bird that is dominant at most garden feeders. Known for their note song familiar in the spring. Also known as Parus major.

Kestrel – The least common to find in a garden, often spotted in towns catching mice. Famous for hovering in mid-air to catch their prey.

Robin – this shy round-bodied bird is often found during the winter months. Also known as Erithacus rubecula.

Chaffinch – The Chaffinch is one of the first birds to sing in the spring and is a regular visitor to any bird table. Also known as Fringilla Coelebs.

Blackbird – Known for its melodious song. Often found in wooded parks and gardens. Also known as Turdus Merula.

Blue tit – A common and very popular garden bird. Frequently found on feeders and generally use nest boxes more than any other species. Also known as Parus Caeruleus.

Song thrush – its repetitive song is one of the features of the spring months. Popular for eating snails, smashing shells against kerbstones and paving slabs. Also known as Turdus Philomelos.

Wren – A tiny and plump bird with a surprisingly loud voice. The wren has a distinctive flight pattern often plunging into dense cover. Also known as Troglodytes.