If you spend a lot of time in the garden and take pride in its maintenance and appearance, the chances are that you enjoy the sight of wild birds enjoying it every bit as much as you do. There are various ways to attract birds into your garden but, like most animals, food goes a long way towards making your garden more appealing than those of your neighbours.
Most birds fare pretty well with finding food in the summer months, but a little extra convenience never hurts. If you choose only one season to go the extra mile, then make it Winter. Frozen ground makes it harder to get worms from the grass and many of their natural food sources are relatively rare. That’s a bonus tip, but those that we have selected to present below have been designed to work all year round, and you’ll be doing your local wildlife a favour if you choose to follow them.
1. Use a Bird Table for Larger Food Chunks
You might go out and buy bird food specifically, or you might prefer to keep them fed with scraps and leftovers. If you fall into the latter category, then it is a great idea to invest in a bird table. There is something for every budget and garden style, so we’ll leave the choice of table and its position up to you. That larger, open space is perfect for some of the more common kitchen scraps, like overripe fruit, grated cheese and animal fats.
2. Hang Bird Feeders in Opportune Spaces
You might already have hooks and other appropriate items in the garden for hanging bird feeders, or you might need to go to a little extra trouble. It can be well worth it, however, as birds love hanging feeders as they keep them out of the way of predators and any rivals for their seeds, such as squirrels. You can get prefilled bird feeders which are packed with seeds, or fill them up yourself with mixed seeds, unsalted peanuts or sunflower seeds, among other items.
3. Position Feeders Near Trees or Shrubs
If you’ve ever gone into the garden when a bird is enjoying a meal on one of your feeders, you’ll know that it doesn’t take much for them to move on. If you’re going to make the effort to encourage birds into your garden, you should make the same effort to keep them safe. Ideally, your feeders, tables and other apparatus should never be more than two metres from a tree or shrub so as to give them somewhere to escape to if they feel threatened.
4. Keep an Eye on the Food You Put Out
Birds can be as picky as anyone else when it comes to their diets, and there will be occasions when some foods just do not go down well. If you find certain foods remaining uneaten, try to get rid of them before they go off in case a bird or other visitor decides to take a chance when they could cause them to become unwell. Keep track of which foods often go ignored too so that you don’t put them out again in the future.
5. Birds Love Fat
This won’t be music to the ears of anyone that’s currently on a diet, but if you get the opportunity to put fat out for the birds, they’ll thank you for it. You can buy fat balls for feeders and tables in pet shops and supermarkets, and can even smear cooking fat on tree barks and other greenery in the garden to attract particular types of birds.
6. Don’t Forget Hygiene
The birds you seek to attract might be wild, but they still have their health to think about. You can push the boundaries somewhat, as bread that is on its way out but not yet mouldy is better feeding a bird than going in the bin, but you should never put out food that could clearly cause them difficulty. The same applies to water, birdbaths and bird tables, which you should aim to clean regularly to keep them safe and healthy.
7. Grow Something with the Birds in Mind
As well as regularly putting food out, you might want to go the extra mile and grow sustainable food resources for the birds in your garden. Holly, ivy and honeysuckle are all ideal for birds for numerous reasons. As well as fruits and berries, they also provide shelter and attract insects which can be another food source.
8. Birds Require Water as well as Food
You’re doing great if you’re feeding the birds, but if you can give them something to drink too, all the better. Ideally, you’ll supply a fresh batch each day for hygiene and taste purposes, and you can use anything that serves as a suitable container. If you don’t have a dedicated birdbath or bowl, a bucket, bin lid or anything else can get the job done – and this might even be a great time to install that pond you’ve always wanted.
9. Don’t Underestimate the Usefulness of the Lawn
Many bird feeders think of specialist equipment and trees when assessing what they can do for the birds, but the lawn itself is also vital. As noted, the fact that the ground hardens in winter makes it harder for them to eat from it, but you can still do your part by leaving longer patches for shelter during colder months, and potentially leaving the grass longer than you usually would in summer to make feeding easier.
10. If in Doubt, Go with Seeds
Options are plentiful at the pet store, but we are yet to encounter a species of bird that doesn’t love seeds. You can buy them, grow them or put out your leftovers as usual. Look into which types are favoured by the birds you seek to attract and keep all the other tips about keeping them fresh and refilled in mind when putting them out.