Thursday 24 January 2019

Attracting birds to your garden

This weekend is the annual RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch. I always like to take part because although we don't have a great variety of birds that visit the garden I think it is vital to record the ones that we do see. When I have written about bird watching in my garden before and I find many people have said that birds don't visit their gardens. I don't have a problem even with a constant stream of cats walking through! Here's a few of my tips to attract our feathered friends.

Buy quality seed – Cheaper bird seed can contain fillers which bulk up the bag weight. Also bird seed with pink and green bits in them contain dog biscuit which needs to be soaked before being eaten so avoid these mixes.

Specialist bird food – Different birds like different types of seed or food. I keep mealworms in stock just for the robins and blackbirds. The black nyger seeds are loved by goldfinches. Pigeons love wheat so you may want to find a wheat-free mix. Only put whole peanuts in a feeder as loose, whole peanuts can choke young birds. If you do have a peanut feeder get a squirrel proof one.

Energy food – This is particularly important in the colder months. Make sure you have high fat content food out first thing in the morning as this is when the birds use up most of their energy reserves. Suet fat balls are an easy way to do this or you can make your own with lard and bird seed.

Don't put much out – Big piles of food won't attract lots of birds but it could gain the attention of mice and rats. It will also go mouldy very quickly and make the birds ill.

Clean it – Birds are wild creatures so they do create a bit of mess with droppings and lost feathers. Also bird food that isn't eaten needs to be cleaned away. Don't use your standard household cleaners as the concentrations can be very damaging to birds. Instead buy a specialist bird cleaner and sanitiser.

Keep it raised – Birds need to feel safe while they are feeding. They won't want to visit if they don't feel safe from the local feline and canine population.

Keep cover – Birds love trees not only to sit and nest in but also to shelter and hide it. Birds don't usually fly straight onto a bird feeder but like to sit and observe first.

Drink to it – Birds need water not only for drinking but also for bathing it. In winter make sure it doesn't get frozen and in summer that it doesn't dry out.

Bird boxes – Birds make their own nests of course but they do like the security and comfort of a bird box in order to raise a family. A small bird box will be ideal for sparrows, blue tits and great tits. If you have a larger, wooded area go for a bigger owl nesting box.

Do you like to do some bird watching in your garden? How do you attract birds to visit?

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I appreciate your comments. If you have any tips, tricks or tweaks please pass them on!