Leaving your garden untidy with untrimmed hedges could be helping wild birds raise their young fledglings, according to garden specialists 

Outdoors experts from GardenBuildingsDirect.co.uk have revealed seven ways that homeowners can help birds, both before and during the breeding season.

The advice for bird-friendly British gardeners also includes choosing plants that provide suitable fruits early in the season but recommends against leaving out additional snacks for feathered friends near nesting sites.

“Helping egg-laying birds as the worst of the winter weather wears off isn’t as simple as just throwing a few kitchen leftovers on the garden and forgetting about them.

“It’s especially important in urban areas to make sure that they have all of the materials they need to make their nests and to help them remain undisturbed until chicks reach maturity.

young blackbirds fledgling nestling

“Hanging a feeder from a tree at the bottom of the garden may seem like a good idea, but it often isn’t. Sweeping the lawn could also be detrimental to fledglings’ chances.”

Here are their ways for gardeners to help breeding birds:

  1. Complete vegetation works by the end of winter

It’s important to avoid cutting or clearing hedges, trees and dense vegetation once the weather starts to warm up in the new year, as you could easily disturb a nest – so try to complete any major pruning before spring truly arrives.

  1. Don’t clear up fallen leaves and twigs

To help birds make the best nest possible for raising their fledglings, gardeners should consciously leave a mess on their lawn and around their gardens borders – don’t clear up loose twigs and leaves, which could form important building materials for wild birds.

  1. Choose plants that fruit in winter and spring

A truly bird friendly garden isn’t complete without a selection of plants that produce their fruit as a readily available, fresh and natural food source during the breeding season.

house sparrow berries berry fruit

Holly berries ripen in autumn but are fed on by a range of species until winter is over, whilst black berries that appear on Ivy, Hawthorns, Cotoneaster, Guelder Rose and other Rose Hips are also favourable.

  1. Place feeders carefully until chicks reach maturity

Hanging a feeder or two in the garden may seem like a straightforward way to help wild birds, but it could actually prove counterproductive while they’re laying eggs in nests.

Placing an artificial food source outside your home could reduce vulnerable fledglings’ chances of survival, as it might also attract predators such as grey squirrels that then raid nearby nests.

To provide vital high protein food sources for wild birds in urban areas, place winter and spring feeders on or by the house, as far away as possible from any shrubbery, trees and other potential nesting sites that could be disturbed.

  1. Leave out helpful materials

Short pieces of fibre, string and yarn – no longer than a couple of inches, so birds don’t get tangled – left in an appropriate and accessible garden location can be helpful for birds building nests ready for their eggs.

Dog Fur nesting material in feeder

Clippings of human or pet hair can also help insulate fledglings’ homes, whilst oven-dried and crumbled eggshells can help female birds restore lost calcium.

  1. Provide a consistent clean water source

In the concrete jungles of the 21st century, it can be tricky for birds to find a reliable source of fresh water. Humans can lend a helping hand by leaving a bowl in the garden, always in the same place and refreshed on a daily basis.

This can be particularly important in extreme weather – top up your water source more often if it’s hot and smash any ice that forms over cold nights.

  1. Avoid any nests discovered

As well as potentially scaring chicks and disturbing any carefully put together bird constructions, lingering if you find a nest or returning to the site could attract predators as humans leave a strong scent trail that can be picked up by foxes and other potentially harmful wild animals.

Homeowners should also try to discourage cats from climbing trees, keep dogs on the lead in the garden if they develop a tendency for rummaging in the bushes, and take any other measure that could protect wild birds’ habitats.

 

Great to see SBS research findings being used in bird care advice online at Leicester Mercury!

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