Attract birds into your garden all year round! Have you always fancied becoming one with nature, and getting involved in helping and feeding garden birds but not sure where to start?
Helping garden birds to survive means creating a garden that your birds and other wildlife can appreciate and enjoy all year round. Winter and early spring is the most important time to feed birds, as this is when their natural food is scarce.
Make it into an enjoyable hobby, a way to enjoy your garden, watching from your window at home and to grab a moment of peace away from the busy commotion of your daily routine. It's also a great activity to do with kids and enjoy as a family.
Here are some top tips to get you started in helping our feathered friends to thrive.
Add a Bird Feeder or Feeding Station
There are all kinds of ways to feed birds from bird tables to hanging bird feeders so choose the option which is best for you. The simple solution is to hang up a peanut or seed feeder; a large number of birds eat seeds so this is a good place to start. There are many different types and sizes available, made from metal and plastic. Some even have a type of ‘cage' around them to discourage squirrels and pesky critters.
Bird tables on the other hand are suitable for many species and most feed mixes. A simple tray with or without a roof is perfectly adequate although, ensure it has a rim to retain the food and gaps in each corner for drainage.
Location, location, location!
Finding the right spot for your bird feeder or bird table can be a challenge. Try finding a spot which provides a nearby place to land, perch or hide. Place in a nice open position but don’t be tempted to place your feeding station to close to a tree or spot covered by a fence in case of predators such as cats and squirrels. Make sure feeders are a safe distance from your house, to avoid birds colliding with your windows and away from unwanted noise (such as away from a patio window). Plus make things a little easier for yourself by putting your feeder, station or table in a place which is easily accessible for you to fill and clean.
Keep Feeders Clean
Bird feeding hygiene is important especially during the summer months when the weather gets warmer and there is a higher risk of food going off and hosting harmful bacteria which can lead to the spread of disease. It’s a great idea to get into the habit of cleaning the feeders or feeding station at least once a week or so as well as replenishing the food supply. To limit the risk of bacteria and disease, try only putting out enough food as needed that way you won’t have food hanging around - then build it up from there.
Quality Bird Food
There are many different types of bird food out there from complete seed mixes to peanuts and suet balls; and it can be a challenge to know which food is right for bird feeding novices. One of the main things to bear in mind is to offer a variety so you can cater for a greater variety of birds, that fingers crossed results in more feathered visitors.
Sunflower hearts and seeds are always a popular choice and will appeal to a wide range of garden birds including Blackbirds and Blue Tits. Try sultanas (soaked in water first) for ground feeding birds or opt for meal worms to attract Robins, Wrens, Sparrows and Blackbirds and to provide a fantastic source of essential fat to help our feathered friends to flourish. Visit the British Trust for Ornithology for more details. Remember if using peanuts, add to a mesh feeder to prevent young birds choking on whole kernels! Try these bird food options endorsed by the Royal Horticultural Society.
Identifying Your Feathered Friends
You really don’t need to look very far to find amazing wildlife, just take a look around your local countryside and in your back garden however, identifying which type of birds you have visiting your garden can be tricky. But, don’t fear help is on hand! The RSPB bird identifier lists over 400 species of birds found in the UK, use their interactive bird identifier to quickly and easily work out what bird you saw.
Happy Bird Feeding & Watching!