Gardening: How to attract birds to your garden and provide them shelter
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Birds feed all year round but now is a good time to start putting feeders and shelters in your garden to attract more birds. Wildlife can also benefit from having water to drink and bathe.
Having more birds in your garden not only enables you to discover more about the UK’s bird species, but they can also be helpful in reducing the damage caused to your plants by insects, as birds like to eat various different invertebrates.
The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has shared advice on how to attract birds and other wildlife to your garden.
To feed birds, garden experts recommended using wire mesh feeders for peanuts and seed feeders for other seed.
Fat balls, on the other hand, can be placed in wire cages instead of plastic nets, as some birds can get caught in the nets.
The RHS advised making your own fat balls by melting suet into moulds, such as coconut shells, or into holes drilled into logs.
Keep feeders clean to limit the spread of infections and diseases, and refill them little and often – around once a day or every two days.
Experts advised changing their position in the garden too, as this may reduce fouling the ground underneath the feeders.
Different birds prefer different foods, and the RHS has listed the best options for specific types of species.
This increases your chances of being able to choose which birds you want in your garden.
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Insect cakes are enjoyed by tits such as blue tits and great tits, while berry cakes are good for finches.
Small birds, such as wrens, prefer finely chopped animal fat and grated cheese, while sparrows enjoy sunflower seeds.
Goldfinches eat niger seed while starlings prefer peanut cakes.
To attract thrushes and starlings, lay out fruit such as over-ripe apples, raisins, and even berries.
As well as food, water is essential for birds to be able to drink and bathe throughout the year.
The RHS recommended providing water in shallow containers, preferably with sloping sides and no more than 5cm deep.
To provide shelter for birds, buying a bird box is a good idea, but the animals typically nest in dense vegetation such as shrubs, hedgerows, and trees.
Holes in trees also provide a natural nest site for several species.
The RSPB has plenty of advice on bird boxes on its website, including how to make your own box and where in your garden you should put it.
Additionally, the RHS warned that bird boxes can be affected by predators, and so it is a good idea to use metal entrance surrounds to protect birds and their eggs from these animals.
Nest boxes can also be cleaned out once a year in autumn.
Furthermore, the RHS recommended using seed feeders for birds instead of putting seed on a traditional bird table as doing this can attract bigger birds and animals, such as magpies, pigeons, and squirrels.
This wildlife can steal smaller birds’ food and allow them to go hungry.
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