Feed the birds, and reap the rewards

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Natural pest and weed control are just two of the benefits that birds can bring to your garden. By creating your own garden bird haven, you will also be able to enjoy their beautiful songs, appreciate their lovely colours and, with a bit of luck, you will get to watch them raising their young families too.

To attract a wide variety of birds, you need to provide a variety of food and accommodate different feeding habits – follow our easy guide, and soon your garden will become a local wild bird feeding destination!

What types of feeder do I need?

There are many ways to feed birds:

Tables are suitable for many species and most foods.  They can be provided with or without a roof, but do need a raised rim to retain the food with a gap in each corner of the rim – this allows rainwater to drain away and also allows you to clean away droppings and uneaten food.

Feeders are available for both nuts and seeds and again attract many species. Special feeders are available for smaller seeds like nyjer seeds which are particularly popular with goldfinches and siskins

Small wire baskets are available for fat balls and other bird cakes and food bars, but be sure to remove the mesh bags around these products so avoid trapping and injuring your birds.

Other containers, such as coconut shells or plastic cups, also make a great addition, and you can have fun creating your own seed and nut recipes to refill them (see below)!

What do I feed them with?

There are many different seed mixes available for feeders, birdtables and feeding on the ground – worth a special mention are sunflower seeds, which are an excellent year-round food.

Peanuts (you should never use salted or dry roasted) are rich in fat and are popular with tits, greenfinches, house sparrows, nuthatches, great spotted woodpeckers and siskins – with robins, dunnocks and wrens tidying up underneath your feeders.

Bird cake, fat balls and food bars are excellent winter food (remember to remove the mesh bags before putting them out) and can be provided in containers such as coconut shells or tit bells, or placed on your bird table.  You can even make your own bird cake by pouring melted fat (suet or lard) onto a mixture of ingredients such as seeds, nuts, dried fruit, oatmeal, cheese and cake, using about one-third fat to two-thirds mixture. Stir well in a bowl and allow it to set in a container of your choice.

Mouldy and stale food can cause infection and should always be removed – if you experience this then you’re probably being over-generous with your amounts.

Which birds can I expect to see?

Just providing one supplementary feeding station will bring visitors to your garden.  Having a table, nut and seed feeders, and food cakes and bars you can expect to see a whole range of species including starlings, sparrows, blackbirds, blue and great tits, robins, greenfinches and collared doves.  Hopping around underneath your feeders, you can expect to see dunnocks, thrushes and chaffinches.

Rarer visitors are great spotted woodpeckers, nuthatches, coal, marsh and long-tailed tits, blackcaps, siskins and bramblings – and you might also see sparrowhawks searching for prey!

Do I need to feed all year?

Supplementary feeding stations are obviously most popular and valuable when natural food is in short supply, usually from October to April.  During Autumn and Winter you should provide high fat foods such as peanuts, fat balls and ‘cakes’ so that birds can maintain their fat reserves to survive the frosty nights.

Continuing to feed birds during the spring and summer will keep them visiting, though you may want to concentrate on providing foods such as summer seed mixes, fruit and sunflower seeds which are great for nestlings.

Once you establish a feeding routine, try not to change it as the birds will become used to it and time their visits to your garden accordingly. By feeding year-round, you’ll also give them a better chance to survive the periods of food shortage whenever they may occur.

How soon can I expect to see birds on my new feeders?

It might take a few days before you see any birds, so don’t be discouraged. Once the birds discover your food and convince themselves it is not a trap, they’lll visit regularly.

Top tips to keep your garden birds healthy

Attracting lots of birds to your garden to feed is lovely to watch – follow our tips to make sure your birds stay healthy.

  • Monitor your food supply carefully – if it takes days to clear you’re being too generous and should reduce the amount of food you’re offering.
  • Keep your bird tables and surrounding areas nice and clean, and free from droppings or mouldy food.
  • Clean and wash your bird table and hanging feeders regularly.
  • Water containers should be rinsed out daily, especially during the warmer months, and allowed to dry out before fresh water is added.
  • Remember your own personal hygiene too and always wash your hands.

So now you have all the information you need to attract birds to your garden and, as you can see in the gallery, here in-store we have all the supplies you need – so pop in today and prepare a feast! And don’t forget your other wildlife which is good for attracting birds, pollinating your flowers, fruit and veg, and controlling unwanted pests – we have a range of bug, bee and wildlife houses and shelters too!

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