Watching birds in your garden at any time of the year is a real joy, but during the Winter months the variety of plants and other ‘facilities’ in your garden can, quite literally, become crucial to their survival.
And if you have enough in your garden to attract them, you’ll become part of their daily routine – in return, they’ll help you with weed and pest control, and if you’re really lucky, they’ll choose to raise the next generation in your garden too!
A little bit of thought and a few simple changes can make all the difference, so we’ve put together our guide to the essential considerations…
What plants should I have?
The key to providing year-round food and shelter is to ensure that your garden contains trees, shrubs and flowers. This variety of planting offers food and shelter for birds – and other wildlife too – which in turn attracts more birds.
Including a variety of evergreens, fruit trees, shrubs and flowers which are at their best at different times of the year will prolong food resources. Our native species and their characteristics do make good reference points, but don’t feel that you have to limit yourself to these as, particularly with berries, most birds are not fussy about where they come from!
Our top six choices as Winter providers include:
- Rowan – a small tree with big appeal in its red Autumn berries, particularly for the thrush family.
- Holly – although the berries are ripe by Autumn, they are fed on by thrushes, blackbirds, fieldfares and redwings in late Winter.
- Ivy – the Autumn flowers attract insects fed on by robins and wrens, and the black berries which appear in the middle of Winter provide food for everything from waxwings and starlings to jays and finches.
- Firethorn– a dense shrub often used as a hedge which provides great shelter – and an abundance of berries!
- Skimmia – the beautiful berries are feasted on by a wide variety of birds.
- Crab Apple – as a tree or a large, multi-stemmed shrub, the miniature brilliant red apples provide a banquet for thrushes, blackbirds, redwings and fieldfares.
Will I need to leave it ‘wild’?
Most definitely not – bird and wildlife-friendly does not mean overgrown and out of control!
Maintenance such as regular pruning of shrubs benefits your plants, ensuring that they produce flowers and fruit, and this in turn benefits the birds that feed on them.
You might want to leave a few fallen leaves – if they’re not smothering your lawn or border plants then they’ll be home to sheltering insects – and that means a great place for birds to forage for food. The same with fallen fruit too, if it’s not causing a problem for you, then leave it for the wildlife to tidy away!
What else can I do?
There are three other things to consider which will be major attractions:
There are a great range of bird feeding stations to choose from, including tables, feeders for nuts and seeds, wire baskets for fat balls and food bars and other containers such as coconut shells which you can fill with your own recipes! And including at least a couple of these will mean that you’ll attract the maximum diversity of bird species.
A water feature is a great attraction for birds too, providing drinking and bathing facilities which they can enjoy throughout the year – and it can be anything from the smallest water feature to a large garden pond.
Put up nest boxes – even though it’s not breeding season, nest boxes offer a safe place to roost at night and shelter from the worst of the season’s weather – and when Spring does come round, you might get to witness a new family!
So now you know the essentials, you’ll be able to help your local wildlife survive and thrive this Winter. And if you need ‘supplies’, we have a variety of berrying plants in stock, a wide range of bird feeders and food to keep your café open, and stylish nest boxes for shelter in-store NOW – so pop in to see us, and get ready to bring in the birds!