The number of garden birds like sparrows, robins and blackbirds is declining each year in most countries because of habitat loss. In the UK, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and other environmental organisations are encouraging home owners to make their gardens ‘bird-friendly’ to help increase the bird population. We have 10 ways to make your garden bird-friendly this summer and to help stop the decline in the number of birds in your area?
Even if you do not have a garden, you can still create a small area for wild birds on your balcony or terrace and there are special bird feeders on the market that can be fixed on windows and windowsills that are particularly ideal for elderly people.
It is fun to create a haven for wild birds and it is a great project if you have children and are wondering how to fill their school holidays! Making your garden bird-friendly will teach them a valuable lesson about caring for the environment and nature and will definitely give them a great new interest as they spot the different species of birds enjoying time in your garden. (https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/advice/gardening-for-wildlife/creating-a-wildlife-friendly-garden/)
Here are 10 of the many things you can do in your garden:-
● Create a natural corner at the bottom of your garden. Let the grass and weeds grow naturally there and plant some wild plant seeds. Although this area will contrast sharply with the rest of your tidy garden, it will be perfect for the birds! It is best to choose a part of the garden that is well away from where your children play or where you enjoy al fresco meals as these activities could disturb the birds.
Packets containing a mixtures of wild plant seeds can be bought in most garden centres and these are ideal as the variety of plants that will grow are particularly rich in berries, nectar and seeds and these are all really nutritious for the birds. As well as attracting wild birds to your garden they will attract butterflies, bees and dragonflies too – what a bonus!
● Plant thick climbing plants as the birds will like to be able to hide among the foliage. Don’t be tempted to have any trees cut down as they are valuable for wildlife and will attract woodpeckers and owls. Fruit trees are ideal for wild birds too as they will enjoy pecking the fruit – so make sure you pick what you need first! Shrubs with berries are a valuable source of food for wild birds too.
● Plant some bright yellow sunflowers as these usually attract bees, caterpillars and other insects. Sunflower seeds are important for birds to eat. Asters and cornflowers are not only pretty in the garden, they also provide a good supply of seeds for wild birds too. Honeysuckle not only looks and smells gorgeous in the garden, the birds will enjoy the nectar too.
● Don’t ‘dead head’ all your flowers as soon as they have finished blooming, as these seed pods are much appreciated by the wild birds and are very nutritious for them.
● Don’t get rid of all your garden rubbish! Dead leaves can be swept up, but put them in a pile in the natural corner of your garden along with any decaying wood as these will soon become rich in insects and will provide food for the birds.
● Install a bird table, but make sure it is well away from where you sit in the garden as the birds could be put off by your presence. If you have cats, make sure the bird table is high enough for them not to reach. Effective deterrents to use for cats include planting prickly plants like holly around the base of the bird table stand or encasing the bottom part of the stand in plastic to make it slippery – large plastic water bottles can be easily adapted for this and are perfect. (https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/advice/how-you-can-help-birds/feeding-birds/all-about-bird-tables/making-a-bird-table/)
● Wild birds need food, water and shelter in your garden to find it attractive. Pick up a bird bath in the summer sales, eBay, Gumtree or similar. Ensure that it is always full of fresh water as birds love to clean they wings as well as drink. Ideally, place the bird bath in a place where it will catch rainwater. It will need a regular clean and the best way to do this is to wash it in nine parts cool water, one part white vinegar as this will get rid of limescale. You may need to give the bowl a gently scrub and then rinse it in clean water, before replacing it in the garden.
● Install a small fountain in your garden. It isn’t only people that enjoy the sound of running water, birds are really attracted by the sound too – especially migratory species.
● Make or buy a nesting box and fix it somewhere cats cannot reach. It is a good idea to do this well before springtime so that your local birds will know where it is located. (https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/actions/how-build-nesting-box-birds)
● Don’t use any pesticides in your garden as insects are an important source of food for the birds as well as frogs, bats and even dragonflies. You will enjoy a garden much richer in wildlife, but interestingly, the insects will still be kept well under control – the natural way!
Within a short time you will soon enjoy seeing more wild birds in your garden and may well spot Blue Tits, Great Tits, Chaffinches, Goldfinches and even Wrens.
If you do decide to build a bird table to feed the birds, it is important to keep it well supplied all year round, as the birds will view it as a safe refuge, where they can always find food. Seeing many more wild birds in your garden is definitely a win-win situation as the birds will enjoy visiting your garden and you will feel as though you are definitely doing your part for the local environment…. .