How to encourage BIRDS to visit your garden

Have you ever watched birds spending time in your garden? Flying from shrub to shrub, nesting in trees, catching bugs or singing sweet melodies - all the while moving gracefully in an array of beautiful colour?

Attracting birds is not only beneficial to your garden’s ecosystem - they also act as natural pest controllers and contribute toward organic gardening, while bringing joy when you watch their antics or listen to them sing.  

While you may think that creating a bird friendly garden is challenging, it really is quite easy. Birds, like humans, need their creature comforts such as food, water and shelter to survive.

Here are some helpful tips on how to make your garden an inviting destination for birds:

1. Food

Before you actually start thinking about food for birds, you need to first find what types of birds will most likely visit your garden. Once you know that, you will have a better idea of how to attract them to your space.

Put bird food out all year round to encourage birds to visit your garden. There is a wide range of bird food such as seed mixes, peanuts, canary seeds, oats or hemp which can be offered to them. Be sure to always choose high quality mixed bird seed. Birds also enjoy meal worms which you can find at pet shops or garden centres. They also enjoy bread, nuts, household scraps and fat balls which is a mixture of nuts, sunflower seeds and cereal.

Remember not to feed birds unhealthy food like cakes or processed foods. The closer to nature the food is, the better for the health of your neighbourhood birds! Never use poisons in your garden if you can help it.

Birds are well-known for their ability to control pests in an organic garden and will happily munch on snails, slugs and caterpillars, not to mention aphids and a host of other insects that have their eyes set on your lovely veggies and plants!!

Place bird feeders around your garden but be careful of prowling cats or predatory birds that may attack unsuspecting birds. Keep birds protected by securing bird feeders firmly into the ground or dense hedge or planting something prickly around them so that when they sense danger, they can disappear quickly. Don’t place feeders near your windows as birds may collide into them. Make sure that you keep feeders and bird tables clean to prevent a build up of bacteria and the spread of disease in wild birds.

Some bird experts feel that we should not feed wild birds at all, but rather encourage them to our gardens by planting a variety of flowers, shrubs, trees and vines  for our bird friends.

Concentrate on indigenous plants like aloes to encourage birds and improve the local habitat. Birds can then snack on natural seeds, fruit, nectar or nuts as well as tasty insects such as snails and caterpillars that may tantalise their palates.  A variety of bird friendly plants will be sure to attract a variety of birds to your garden!
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2. Shelter

Birds will not visit your garden if it’s bare and barren. In order to attract various birds to your garden, you need to create an attractive space for birds to visit. The more appealing you make your garden, the more birds will be attracted to it. Include a wide array of trees, plants, vines, creepers, groundcover, lawn and shrubs that can provide food, shelter, shade and nesting areas for them to enjoy.

Trees, plants and shrubs provide protective cover for birds during harsh weather conditions as well as a resting place for them to sleep.

Consider annual (asters) and perennial flowers (poppies), creepers, clusters of hedges as well as fruit trees like mulberry, gooseberry, cherries and plum trees for a safe haven for visiting birds. 
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3. Water

Don’t forget to provide water for the birds! They love to drink water and often have to fly miles to quench their thirst. Fresh, clean water is just as essential as providing food for birds. They need it for drinking and bathing purposes. 

Invest in a stone bird bath or fountain which can be filled with water and become the perfect centre piece in your garden for birds to play and frolic in. Keep water clean and dirt-free by changing and filling up your bird bath regularly.

By providing fresh water, you will make your garden the favourite place for birds to hang out! 
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4. Nesting and roosting

Setting up nesting and roosting areas provides shelter for birds visiting your garden throughout the year. If your garden has an established tree, they will most likely find a great nesting spot there.

Nesting material such as grass, reeds, feathers or pet hair are often used to weave nests. Some birds will find nesting areas in dead or decaying trees while others will settle on dense foliage to nest.

You can also set up a nesting box in your garden to encourage birds to mate and provide a place for them to raise their young. This is also a nice way to keep the birds in your garden.

Make your own nest box if you are the crafty type, it’s a lovely little project to keep you busy. According to bird experts it’s a good idea to position nesting boxes in areas of your garden that are quieter. In this way, birds will be more inclined to stay and not be affected by noise. Make sure that nesting boxes are built and positioned in such a way as to discourage predators, especially cats!

While creating a bird-friendly environment may initially take hard work and patience, you will definitely be rewarded in the long run when you can sit back and watch them enjoy your garden. What could be nicer?
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