Kathryn Eccles, from equestrian and country store Millbry Hill, has this advice for encouraging birds to visit, live, and stay safe in our gardens. Binoculars at the ready!

We've lost an estimated 140 bird species over the past 400 years and scientists have predicted we could lose 100 more if we don’t take action, so it's important that we do what we can to attract more birds to our gardens.

Like all animals, there are many species of bird that thrive on different diets and habitats. Woodpeckers, for example, can hoard food but many birds require a constant supply of food. Some make their nests in trees, bushes and hedges, like blackbirds and other thrushes. Others are cavity-nesters that live in holes in the trunks of trees, like tits and nuthatches.

You can use the songbird factfile from the SBS to work out which types of birds are most common in your area or to decide which ones you want to attract. Then, use my tips below to figure out what habitats you should provide and which food to buy to encourage them to visit.

How to start attracting more birds

If you want to attract birds to your garden, the most important thing to do is to create a consistent food supply. That way, birds will know your garden is a reliable source of food.

Make sure your bird feeders are always full of nuts or seeds: sunflower, peanut, and Nyjer seed are all favourites of some common garden birds. The mesh in nut feeders allow birds to peck out little bits of feed at a time, and seed feeders only let out a certain amount to ensure a steady supply. Hang your feeders close to shrubs for safety but not so close that domestic pets can climb up and bother them.

birds on feeder

You can also provide a feeding tray covered with a ground and mealworm mix, which robins, in particular, are big fans of but keep an eye out for grey squirrels! In winter many birds need more calories to survive, so consider supplementing with suet rolls and fatty snacks when it gets colder. Meeting the needs of the birds all year round is the best way to ensure they will return.

Think of your garden as a one-stop-shop for birds. Instead of just supplying nuts and seeds, make sure there's plenty of drinking water to go with their dry diets. If you have a pond, introduce low-hanging branches and shallow platforms so smaller birds can drink, have a wash, and snack on aquatic insects. Bird baths are another good option if you’re short of space, just keep them out of reach of pets as drinking from them can make dogs and cats ill.

robin on stone bird bath

How to encourage birds to nest in your garden

Grow trees, bushes, hedges, and thickets so there's plenty of cover for nesting. Having a lot of foliage has the added bonus of providing a safe place away from predators: even birds that are just visiting need a place to hide when they stop by for a drink or some birdseed.

You don't necessarily need to have a garden big enough to grow trees if you want to accommodate cavity-nesting birds like blue tits: they also love making their homes in birdboxes, which are warm, safe, and can be hung on almost any vertical surface.

nestbox

Buy or make your own birdbox using this guide

Having a garden full of birds all year round is a wonderful thing. With these tips, you can begin to create the perfect environment for birds to eat, drink, and even nest safely.


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