The way we look after our gardens really matters. There are an estimated 16 million gardens in the UK, according to The Wildlife Trusts. Together they form a huge potential refuge for bird species that are declining in the wild.
In recent years the population of many common garden birds has been in sharp decline.
According to the Audubon Society, some songbird populations that were once believed secure have declined 80% since 1967.
It has never been more important to take steps to attract birds into your garden. In order to attract any birds into your garden you must first meet their basic needs: food, water, shelter, and nesting sites.
Any shrub or tree that produces berries or seeds is an excellent choice in a bird-friendly garden. Most berries begin to form in early autumn just when birds need to build up their fat reserves for the coming winter.
If possible it is best to plant a range of as many different kinds of plants as possible. An excellent choice in the Crab Apple tree.
As well as providing natural sources of food for birds it is particularly worthwhile to also provide supplementary feeding spots. Bird tables and bird feeding stations are a great way to provide plenty of food for garden birds.
Once you start to put out food in your garden you will start to notice that birds are a creature of habit, so will return daily and will rely on you heavily in harsher weather. Make sure you top up feeders to stop them running out, and use fat balls and other suet based foods to give the birds a real boost in the early mornings. As well as wild bird seed mixes, other high energy foods which will attract a wider range of garden birds include; peanuts, niger seed, sunflower seed and mealworms. Adding kitchen scraps such as unsalted bacon rinds, raisins and hard cheese to your bird table will also make your garden particularly popular!
Birds need to have access to a supply of water all year round. They need to bathe and keep their feathers in good condition, and they need to drink it too. Ponds provide water for birds and attract additional wildlife to your garden.
Bird Baths are a helpful way of providing water for birds and should be positioned in a sheltered position with shrubs nearby for perching and safety.
Shelter and nesting sites
Birds need sheltered places where they can roost at night or shelter from predators or bad weather. Trees are ideal roosting spots for starlings and larger birds but small birds often prefer to shelter in shrubs and hedges.
It is possible to encourage birds to nest in your garden by providing them with nest boxes, which need to be positioned somewhere hidden away where they won’t be disturbed by humans or predators.