It’s probably fair to say that many of us have been spending more time in and paying more attention to what’s happening in our gardens over the last year than we might have done before. As a result, more and more people have been discovering and rediscovering the joy of birdwatching. There is nothing quite so uniquely soothing and fascinating as watching birds up-close, flitting and hopping around and pecking for food.
So how do we make our gardens more inviting for birds?
While bird feeders, boxes and baths are an obvious way to attract birds to your garden, there are more ways in which to make your garden a place for them to frequent and even nest.
What you choose to plant in your garden can have the double effect of not only looking beautiful but also providing birds with food and shelter.
The establishment of native shrubs and bushes offers protection to birds from many enemies, and insect-eating birds find natural nesting sites there. Holly provides birds with a safe place in which to build their nest; and of course its berries gives them a food source later in the year.
A pile of brushwood comprising twigs of various thickness is a good nesting site for robins and wrens. If you have a wall you’re willing to let overgrow, climbing plants such as ivy, vines, honeysuckle and clematis offer many species good nesting sites.
A wild-flower or small wilderness area with perhaps some raspberry canes and or bramble provides cover and food sources for many birds.
Some flowering plants whose flowers turn into berries for birds to feast on later in the year are skimmia, viburnum tinus and pyracantha.
Letting leaves lie where they have fallen in autumn, in at least part of the garden, protects the ground from drying out and provides food for insects and worms, the preferred food of blackbirds, thrushes and starlings. A compost heap will also draw their interest and appetites.
Taking a few steps to making your garden a natural habitat for birds is easy – and it means they aren’t completely reliant on feeders, which can often be raided and emptied in a matter of minutes by wily crows. But if you love birds, you’ve got to love crows for their ingenuity!