Bring them Flocking - Attracting Birds to the Garden

21/07/2012 17:48

By creating a bird friendly garden you will be giving our feathered friends a helping hand. Its also very rewarding watching the many visiting birds in your garden. The more home grown bird food on the menu the better. A five-star bird garden offers seeds, buds, berries, fruit and nuts as well as insects and invertebrates.

Winter branches laden with juicy berries will be snapped up quickly by the birds. Cotoneaster, Rowan berries and the small shiny red clusters on the unfussy shrub Hawthorn are relished by the many birds. Also consider planting, Pyracantha, Holly, Honeysuckle, Guelder rose, Wild privet and don't forget Roses as another great source of food. Leave some of the faded blooms on near the end of the season so they form rosehips. The birds love them and they make a nice tea for us! Among the Roses, Shrub Roses, especially Rosa rugosa, have some of the largest rosehips and they stay juicy until late winter. In addition to their berries as a food supply, Hollies have an added benifit of providing a prickly safe haven from prowling cats!

When those first black berries appear on the Ivy - Hedera helix in the middle of winter, they are gorged upon in no time by many birds. Honeysuckles are perfect for small places or let them scramble up fences and over outbuildings. In summer the scented flowers of honeysuckle attract insects and in the autumn provide berries and cover for the birds.
Trees help to provide a variety of food for our birds. Native species support a vast amount of insects that birds prey upon and many trees provide seeds such as Alder, Beech, Birch and  Scots pine. If space is limited  then go for a few ornamental fruit trees.The birds will also use the trees as daytime perches and night time roosts.

Seedheads left standing over winter not only look good, but they are a valuable source of food for the birds. They will enjoy snacking on the seeds of Teasel, Sedum, Sunflower, Cornflower, Ornamental thistles, Angelica and Fennel.
Kitchen Gardens can be a treasure trove for the birds. Veggies are host to aphids and caterpillars, among others, that birds will collect and feed to their young. If you have an orchard then leave some windfall fruits for the ground feeding birds to enjoy. And our kitchens themselves can provide even more bounty. Grated mild cheese, boiled rice, raisins, currants, dry oatmeal, suet, cake and pastries. Cooked potatoes are a favourite food for many birds. Bacon rind is very nutritious, especially raw, however be sure to cut the rinds into small pieces to prevent the birds from choking. Other food should be avoided as well.Avoid uncooked rice or dessicated products like  coconut as these can swell up in the birds gut with fatal results. Peanuts should not be scattered loosely but put in a feeder so the birds have to break them up before consuming them. Avoids choking especially with nestlings.

It's quite easy to make your own bird cake. Just melt suet or dripping in a saucepan and add kitchen scraps, birdseed, broken up unsalted peanuts and dried fruits. Pour the mixture into a container (yougurt pots are great)and let set. Once the mixture is firm, remove from the containers and place them at the feeding table or suspend them from branches with string. Why not treat them to some tasty cones. Gather up a few pine cones and attach a wire to each one by winding it through the scales at the base of the cone. Now press a mixture of suet and seeds firmly between the scales until each one is coated. Now hang them from branches in the garden. We all love feasting on a buffet and so do the birds.

You can provide one by making a log feeder. Drill lots of holes of various sizes into a log and than press fat/suet and seed mixtures into all the holes. Place the log in a good spot for viewing and enjoy the show! Besides bed and board, birds must have water.A bird bath makes a wonderful feature in any garden. So, with plenty of tasty delights on offer in the garden year round, you should have the birds flocking!


D. Moss