Having wild birds visit your garden is one of the simple pleasures in life. Even the ‘common’ garden species such as blackbirds and sparrows make fascinating watching as they go about their daily business. To encourage a wider range of species to visit, try providing different types of food. Mixed seed is a great start, but by including some insect-based foodstuffs, you are likely to see an increase in the different species of visiting birds. Likewise, suet will encourage even more.
Besides giving a range of foods, there are some other steps you can take to help the birds who visit your garden:
- Clean all bird feeders weekly in a mild bird-safe disinfectant solution. Many diseases are spread bird to bird through dirty feeders, and old food and dirt creates a breeding ground for bacteria and subsequent infection.
- Refresh water in baths and dishes every day. Some diseases are waterborne, and are spread between individual birds through the use of communal water sources. One such example which is very common, especially in the warm, wet late summer and autumn is Canker (Trichomoniasis) which can affect many garden species, but particularly pigeons and doves.
- The addition of insect-friendly plants, and hiding places for insects such as piles of logs or boulders, and rockeries will increase the amount of insect life, and therefore attract more of the insect eating species of birds to your garden, and boost the biodiversity there.
- Place bird feeders and water sources out of the reach of cats and other predators. While a feeder out in the open will prevent a cat from sneaking up under cover (such as that provided by bushes etc), it opens the birds up to attack from above, such as by a sparrow hawk. A bird table with a roof on is ideal to prevent aerial attack, as the hawk will be unwilling to risk it’s plumage by squeezing in to a semi- enclosed space with a roof.
- Don’t use toxic weed killers or slug pellets in your garden. Once these enter the avian food chain (or any other, for that matter) they can cause untold damage. There are natural alternatives which will not harm the birds.