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Published 26 January 2018
Attracting birds to the garden can be an incredibly rewarding and fun experience.
It's the time of year when the birds start coming out of cover and begin making a beautiful dawn chorus. The wonder of nature is never more apparent than in our gardens, so here is the Ideal World guide to attracting our fine feathered friends to your abode.
Bird feed may be more than tuppence a bag nowadays, but food will always bring birds to the garden. Many people know that bread is just as bad for birdies as it is for human beings (well… all in moderation) so getting good quality feed regularly is an important factor. The first step is always to provide what birds need: some good food.
Some birds may be happy to dive right in, but in the wild small creatures tend to err on the side of caution, and birds are heavily predated upon by everything from cats to foxes to bigger birds. For this reason they may be cautious of swooping down to tuck in on the grub you've left for them. So, if you're not finding flocks of starlings pecking around your feeder in a day or so, don't despair, it might just take them some time to get used to where it is.
Another thing keeping birds away from the dinner you've prepped for them is the location. Bushes can provide excellent cover to dart into if they feel threatened, but too close and they run the risk of predators such as house cats using it against them. Too exposed and they won't feel like they can find settle enough to eat. Try to strike a balance with the placement of your feeders and tables from the bird's perspective.
Bird feeders with a variety of different food stuffs such as nuts, fat and fat balls, seeds, fruits, etc will attract a wide variety of birds. Learning what your local species are and what times of year they're likely to be around and correlating it to what foods they like will keep your garden busy. A mix that includes sunflower seeds, canary seed, hemp and husk-free oats will feed most birds whilst deterring the less-desirable wood pigeons.
Not only will it look nicer for yourself and for the birds, but it'll keep them healthier too. Birds can easily give each other diseases, especially where lots of them congregate, and regularly cleaning your bird tables and similar areas will keep them healthy.
Just like us, birds need a nice cool drink as well as something to munch on. But birds also use standing water to wash and bathe in. Making your garden the one-stop solution to all of their needs means you'll get a lot more visitors.
You'll find yourself having to put out less food if you can let nature give you a helping hand too. Bushes rich in berries, or plants that attract insects will provide tasty snacks without you having to keep topping up the feeders, especially in the colder months.