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How to Welcome Garden Birds in Spring

With spring officially here, we are likely to see more and more wildlife out and about, particularly visiting our gardens. Everyone enjoys seeing a variety of garden birds visiting their backyard, and there are ways to improve the numbers you see. Why not also record the different species too?

Chaffinch sitting on a branch

Feed

Feeding the birds is the best way to welcome them into your garden, and as birds are creatures of habit, they will return and attract other species. Make sure you put out a range of feed, as this will attract a variety of birds. Some birds are fussy, and prefer one type over another. As such, it is best to have seeds, suet balls, fruit, mealworms and nuts in a rotation and you will see a colourful range of species visiting the feeders.

The position of bird feeders is important too, as they should not be too far from tree or bushes that can be used as a cover and a reasonable distance from your house or any buildings. The feeders should also be spaced apart and not hanging over low-lying bushes which are good hiding spots for cats. If the feeder is free-standing, make sure the post is smooth and straight as this stops squirrels from climbing and eating the food left for the birds.

A garden bird feeding on fruit and nuts.

Bird Bath

Making your garden the place to go for local birds includes installing a bird bath. Water is important for seed-eating birds, as they need to wash the dry food down. A birdbath with a bit of extra depth in it also provides feathery visitors with a place to clean, something they enjoy in hot, dry weather, and it also helps keep their feathers in top condition. Keep the birdbath clean, changing the water every few days and ensure it doesn’t freeze over in winter.

Nest Boxes

Nest boxes are excellent at encouraging birds to come to your garden and provide a safe and cosy place for the breeding season. You can also plant thick shrubbery or trees suitable for nesting as well. Before breeding is in full swing, clean out any nest boxes of any old nest material to kill any parasites. Consider changing the location of the nest boxes too if a previous spot has not brought any visitors, and don’t have too many of the same type of nest boxes. Multiple options can be confusing, and some species don’t like nest boxes with holes.

Starlings in a nestbox

Bird and Insect Friendly Plants

Birds are more likely to be encouraged to visit your garden if there are some bird-friendly plants, particularly if they are native ones. Good choices include rowan, hawthorn, honeysuckle, holly, cotoneaster and berberis. Bird-friendly plants provide natural food for the birds, and also attract insects for them to eat too. Insects are a favoured food for chicks during the breeding season in spring, and it is just as enjoyable watching bees and butterflies visit your garden as it is the birds.

Wildlife Friendly Gardening

When gardening, make sure what you do won’t reduce the number of birds that usually visit your garden. This includes avoiding pesticides and insecticides, letting your grass grow in winter and growing climbers which provide cover and food. Flowers are pleasing to look at but also bring colour and scent to your garden which attracts all sorts of wildlife. Installing a compost heap is also a win-win, as the compost will enrich your soil and also provides a habitat for worms and insects, which birds will eat.

A male sparrow on a bush

Reduce Predator Opportunities

One way to welcome birds is reducing opportunities for predators such as cats and sparrowhawks, by placing feeders where ground predators can't reach them and garden birds can spot danger from the air. Electronic deterrents can also repel cats from bird feeding areas. When it comes to fences, make gaps big enough for hedgehogs but too small for foxes to get through. The presence of foxes can deter birds from visiting your garden.

When out and about in your garden, keep warm with country clothing. At Fur Feather & Fin we also stock several handy garden accessories and on our blog there are guides and tips on British wildlife and outdoor activities.

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