Looking after garden birds
Birds are often a mixed blessing in the garden: they'll swipe your berries, but while they're at it they'll also strip aphids from your roses, eat small slugs and hoover up caterpillars too. On the whole, they do far more good than harm: and besides, they're lovely to watch as they flit around your plants, bringing your garden to life with song and colour.
At Merryhatton garden centre you'll find all you need to encourage a thriving population of garden birds to visit. Here's some tips to make your garden into a haven for your feathery friends.
- Put up bird feeders
There's lots of ways to provide food for the birds in your garden - the traditional bird table, the more modern bird station or simply individual feeders in different parts of the garden. Whatever you choose, place them in a quiet spot that’s sheltered from weather.
Importantly, consider how to prevent large birds and squirrels making off with the food intended for small garden birds? Our advice is to choose a robust feeder that the large birds can’t peck through, or even one with a metal cage to prevent the squirrels getting at the food.
Once the birds learn that this is a safe and convenient place to find food, they’ll visit your garden regularly!
- Provide the right food
If you want to be certain that you’re providing your garden birds with good nutritious food, we recommend that you choose a reputable brand that you can have confidence in. Clearly the birds need more energy to withstand the rigours of the winter weather so adjust your feeding regime accordingly - and don't forget to provide water, particularly when the temperature drops below freezing and the birds struggle to get water from natural sources.
- Grow berrying shrubs
This is the most natural foods for birds. Red-berrying shrubs like Cotoneaster or Pyracantha followed by the orange berries of Berberis and Rowans seem to be the most popular. They seem to like white berries least -see our article on autumn berries for more information.
- Leave seedheads on
Don't be too quick to tidy up once annuals and perennials have died back in autumn, as birds really appreciate the contents of their dried seedheads. Sunflowers, globe thistles, teasels, mullein and evening primrose are all much appreciated.
- Keep the birds safe
- It’s important that feeding the small birds in your garden doesn’t endanger them, so here’s some helpful tips to keep the birds safe:
- Think about where you position the feeder or table – open spaces make it difficult for lurking cats or foxes to hide!
- Choose a well-made bird table or feeder, so that there are no sharp edges or small spaces that could damage their delicate feet.
- Clean out food trays and containers regularly to avoid the risk of infection.