Food That Birds Like Best
Avoid clipping too closely those shrubs or hedgerows that produce berries or hips such as hollies, pyracanthas, rugosa roses and snowberries. Birds always prefer naturally grown food and will be encouraged to visit a garden that has a plentiful supply of food, shelter and water.
Keeping Predators From A Bird Table
Remove the bird table top and slip a length of drainpipe about 76cm long over the post so that it drops to the ground. The drainpipe will defeat cats or other predators wanting to scale the post. Another deterrent is a thorny climbing rose bush planted at the foot of the post.
Encouraging Birds With Seeds
Spread a mixture of seeds on the bird table to encourage different species of birds. Most birds will find something they like in the selection of seeds. Greenfinches, which seem to like everything, may be the most regular visitors. Other diners may include the occasional goldfinch, blue tits, great tits, coal tits and nuthatches. Collared doves and chaffinches may also pay visits, but these usually prefer to eat from the ground.
Letting Nature Help
On cold or snowy winter days, get out into the garden and turn over the top of your compost heap. Compost hides millions of insects which will provide a feast for many small birds.
Power Of The Sunflower
Birds are attracted by seeds that are rich in oil and protein. Their favourite among these is sunflower seeds. Whether sprinkled on the ground, placed on a seed table or even put in a wire mesh feeder basket, you will find birds flocking to your garden to eat them.
Starting With Small Portions
Avoid putting out too much food when trying to attract birds into your garden, uneaten seeds will become damp and mouldy. Put out small quantities to begin with, increasing the amount gradually as more birds begin to appear and the food is consumed more quickly.
Installing A Birdbath
A birdbath should be shallow, 6-13mm deep. Because it is so shallow it will need to be refilled at least once a day. Place a few stones in the water for the birds to stand on. Position the birdbath where it will benefit from full sun, and not too far from a hedgerow or bushes where they can perch to dry out after bathing. A birdbath on a short pedestal will attract more species than one on a tall pedestal but, whatever its height, it must be out in the open where predators cannot approach unseen.
Helping Birds With Building
A mesh net can be used to supply birds with building materials for their nests. Fill an empty net with string, hairs recovered from brushes, and pieces of wool and cotton and suspend the net from a branch.
Keeping Birds At Bay
While birds can bring a lot of pleasure to a garden, they have destructive ways and can be a source of irritation, particularly to a vegetable gardener. To protect newly sown seeds from birds, insert small wooden stakes into the ground at each end of the seeded area. Fit lengths of string, pulled taut, to stakes opposite each other. Along the strings, lay pieces of prickly branches that have been pruned from holly, thorn or rose bushes.
Instant Bird Proof Tunnels
To protect seedlings and young plants from birds, cut flexible PVC-coated 13mm mesh wire netting into lengths suitable to fit along the rows, then bend each length into a tunnel shape to fit over a row.
When netting a fruit bush to protect its crop from birds, place a cane at each corner. Make a small slit in several tennis or ping pong balls and put one over the top of each cane. Slide the net over the balls. These will keep the net firmly in position and prevent it from snagging on the canes.