Help the Environment & Look After Your Garden Birds This Spring
From the birds and the bees all the way through to humans, we all have to live together and share this environment. As the dominant race it is our responsibility to do as much as we can to support the world in which we live. That’s why we have put together this rough guide to caring for our feathered friends to help you get started.
Birds are pretty hilarious. They hop, peep, and puff up when it’s cold. They live in our gardens, and steal scraps of fibrous material to make their nests, particularly at this time of year.
That being said it’s important for urban and suburban garden owners to keep an eye out for songbirds – their populations are often in a state of flux, sometimes declining sometimes booming, so it’s important to make sure you look after them.
People often think bird care means just putting out food, but these guys actually are pretty good at keeping themselves fed. By all means scatter some seeds though, in fact there are some great seeds out there marketed to make birds more welcome – look for an RSPB label on the box, or just Google ‘flowers for birds’.
If you’re going to leave out food, try sunflower seeds and canary seed. These are the more songbird friendly choices and can easily be scattered around, or left in a small pile somewhere out of the wind. Keeping your bird table or feeding place clean is good too – try using a basket like in the picture above to avoid scraps going nasty, as they may harm the visitors.
Another good tip for gardeners is try to avoid bird food with a lot of wheat in it – this attracts Woodpigeons which are of course adorably fat, make an amusing call and waddle around comically, but may also choose to wreak havoc on your vegetable patch on a whim. They are known to show no mercy to members of the cabbage family.
This coconut shell makes a great feeding platform.
Birds also need water too. The most obvious thing you can do is leave out a bird bath, which is as simple as just leaving a terracotta dish on an outside table. Birds aren’t fussy and are not burdened by human notions of aesthetics, so don’t feel the need to install anything fancy. Even an upturned dustbin lid will do.
In terms of plants and flowers, your garden can become a lot more bird friendly with just a couple of adjustments. For example, if you let a patch of grass below a tree or in a sheltered corner grow long and wild, it provides a safe haven for them. Shrubs and climbing plants also make good cover for wildlife, as barren or over-organised gardens tend to provide little shelter.
If you see a bird hopping about with a beak full of fibres, it’s probably constructing a nest. You can help out, by leaving something stringy, woolly, or equally fibrous in a plant pot outside. Anything will do, and given that it’s springtime your dog may be able to contribute some woolly hair as its winter coat moults out. You may have seen an adorable video of a bird picking the fur directly of a sleeping golden retriever’s back already.
Of course there’s always putting up a nest box, which is great. Build or buy one, no matter what you’ll probably see something in it after a while. It’s best to put these up early as possible so prospective tenants can scope it out before they decide to build a nest. They’ll case the joint from a bush first, before staking their claim.
If you need more bird related hints and tips, head over to www.rspb.org.uk for some expert tips, not just for birds, to make your garden more wildlife friendly. Stay tuned for another article on how to make your garden a better place for bees soon.