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How to create a garden space for your birds

January 16, 2018

With ongoing land development and subsequent loss of habitat and food sources for birds and other wildlife, some bird species have become extinct. Although we cannot stop this, what we can do is support wild bird populations by offering them a retreat in our gardens at home. Whether you work individually or as a community, creating garden space for birds will benefit all different types of wildlife in your area.

Benefits of attracting birds to your garden

Not only can you help endangered or threatened species by providing them with an attractive habitat in your garden, attracting beautiful birds such as finches, robins and cardinals will add some colour and music to your outdoor space.

Enjoying the view as you sip your Sunday morning coffee, not only offers the aesthetics from the birds but aids relaxation. In addition, birds offer natural pest control eating up unwanted slugs, snails, aphids and caterpillars.

Robin, A sweet and very popular little bird. (erithacus rubecula).

Robin, A sweet and very popular little bird. (erithacus rubecula).

What’s more, birds act as pollinators in your garden, by moving pollen from one flower to another (bees usually get credited for this). This is vital for the production of seeds and fruit.

Lastly, what better way to get children involved in the environment, encouraging them to spend time outside. You can teach them the different bird species which visit your garden (keeping a little bird identification guide to one side), what they eat, and where they like to nest, enabling them to develop a respect for the environment.

Ways to attract birds to your garden

Birds have three basic needs; food, water and shelter, which are perfect starting points for you to encourage them into your garden.

1. Food

Birds flock to plants and trees that produce berries and seeds for them to eat. Therefore, if you haven’t got these types of plants/trees at the moment, you could introduce holly, spindle, crab apple and firethorn to your garden.

Additionally, supplying bird seed throughout the year will supplement the birds diet, which can be added to feeders or on a bird table, which will not only add some interesting focal points around your garden, but provide observation areas for when you want to watch the different types of birds visiting your garden.

Bird feeding on seeds

2. Water

It’s important to keep birds hydrated in the winter as well as the summer. Proving a water source can be achieved easily by providing a bird bath, which is also very cost effective. You can put a few stones in the bottom of it to help the birds to bathe easily. However, watch out for cats, ensure cats cannot use them as a cover for an attack. Place the bath close to bushes or trees so the birds can get into them if alarmed.

House Sparrow bathing in water

3. Shelter

Having an array of trees, bushes and decorative grasses in your garden, provides birds with plenty of shelter where they can hide, nest and breed.

For nesting, you can provide a safe place for breeding by fixing bird boxes up in your garden. They not only add a bit of character to your outdoor space, but offer a safe place for the birds to lay their eggs.

Birdhouse on a birch tree, hand made

You should aim to put your bird boxes up by mid-autumn, ahead of the winter, around 2 - 4 meters up on a wall or tree. If you face them in a north-east direction, this should detract strong winds and bright sunlight.

In addition, try to avoid trimming shrubs and hedges between January and August which may disturb nesting birds.

Other garden considerations

A couple of things to watch out for when trying to create a bird friendly garden, are to choose natural and organic fertilisers. This is to avoid any harm to birds. Also, try to minimise the use of pesticides so that any bugs can be a source of food for birds.

Finally, if you are redesigning your garden and employing a landscape gardener. Ensure you tell them of your plans to have a bird friendly garden, so that they can consider this when preparing your design and recommendations on types of plants.

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8 comments

  1. I have many different visitors to my garden and it is lovely to watch them. I have bird tables in different places and feeders hanging from different branches at different heights. Some are squirrel proof which is handy! Plus the bird bath I hope and think they enjoy it all. I have patches of ‘natural’ garden for all wildlife to enjoy including hedgehogs who also have a hedgehog house and when not hibernating they almost queue up to wait for their food!! It all gives the cats something to watch although I’m not sure what they think of the visiting pheasants!

  2. Very informative and helpful information.
    Any tips for small areas, I have like half a balcony space outside my window not large enough to sit but enough for plants or to stand up in.
    Thank you.

  3. Hi
    I have trouble with pigeons and magpies.they steal all the food.how can I save some for the little birds?

  4. Positioning of Nesting boxes.
    I ideally, they should positioned facing north-east to south-east, or in the shade – otherwise the chicks get overheated and can die.
    Strongly recommend those made of woodcrete (such as by Schwegler), which are much cooler in summer and also much easier to clean in the Autumn.

  5. Positioning of Nesting Boxes.
    Suggest that they ideally be positioned facing North-East to South-East or in shade out of the sun- otherwise the nest boxes can overheat and causing the chicks to die.
    Recommend those made of woodcrete (such as by Schwegler) which are cool and also very easy to clean in the Autumn.

  6. How can I stop Starlings pitching all the suet pellets out of my bird feeder, I have three feeders one with sunflower seed,one mealworm and suet , within half an hour the suet is gone and costing me a fortune. Paul

  7. Very interesting and helpful I’ve a hole in my outside wall and blue tits loved it and had babies, also following year bumblebee’s nested there the biggest and best looking I’ve ever seen isant wild life the best.

  8. My garden is a wild garden with bird feeders &pond with water fall also bird baths gives us so much pleasure