Ellie Goodall looks at how bird baths, tables, feeders and nesting boxes are all important in attracting many different species into your garden.
Birds not only add colour and vibrancy to your garden, they are fascinating to observe and will also act as natural predators, feeding on unwanted insects, grubs and other garden pests.
How To Encourage Birds To Your Garden
The best way to encourage birds is to provide their basic needs – food, water and shelter.
This can be achieved in a practical way with bird tables and feeders, bird baths and nesting boxes but don’t neglect plants, shrubs and trees as important natural habitat and food sources.
Bird feeders range from nut dispensers and simple bird feeders to elaborate feeding stations that also act as garden ornaments. Many are squirrel proof, some discourage larger birds such as pigeons and others are designed for different types of seed and food.
Bird Tables may be made from stone but more commonly wood and sbould be tall enough to ward off the unwanted attention of cats.
What Food Do Birds Eat?
To attract a range of birds take time to find out what they like. Good seed mixtures will contain millet and other small seeds that sparrows and finches like; flaked maize will be eaten by blackbirds; tits and greenfinches prefer fatty peanuts that must be bought from a reputable source.
Look out for wild bird feed that is marketed for specific species such as robins, finches or tits or buy certain seeds, perhaps thistle to attract goldfinches, chaffinches and siskins.
Suet and fat balls are excellent food sources for the long winter months and these can come with added cereals and seeds to provide a very effective energy boost.
Also consider fresh mealworms, Robins love these and they can be put out throughout the year attracting other insect loving birds such as wagtails.
Bird feeders should augment rather than replace a wildlife friendly environment. Plant as diversely as possible to attract the widest range of birds throughout the year.
Consider nector rich flowers such as foxgloves, honeysuckles and delphiniums, berry carrying shrubs like pyracantha or viburnum and let fruit, coniferous and evergreen trees, a Cypress or Cedar, offer food and shelter in the autumn and winter.
What Do Birds Drink?
Birds need water for both drinking and bathing. You may already have a pond that is great for encouraging wildlife, adding other water features including a birdbath will only enhance your garden’s appeal.
There’s a choice between contemporary or traditional designs, woodland or artistic, some with fountains and the added attraction of running water that may be solar powered for extra ecological.
One of my favourites is the Art Deco Bird Bath (pictured) by Willowstone, a modern design constructed from cast stone in the Cotswolds.
Where Can They Live?
After feeding and bathing, the birds will need somewhere to live. Nesting boxes sited near food sources will be an extra incentive for them to stay in your garden.
Basic wooden ones will suit tits, nuthatches and sparrows. Robins will love setting up home in a quirky teapot while a red letter box nester will appeal to both birds and provide a great talking point for human garden visitors.
For Further Information
Visit our other wildlife blogs for more information:
Go to our Wildlife Care page or visit 'RSPB- Giving Nature a Home' for more advice on feeding birds.