Modern developments have created a lot of damage to animal habitats, including those of birds. So, we owe it to them to make our gardens and garden sheds bird-friendly and help our little feathered friends survive and breed successfully.
Our garden experts are now encouraging every British homeowner to choose plants that provide suitable fruits and to prepare a source of water for birds, two suggestions among a myriad of others to support birds during their breeding season.
More than merely throwing out our kitchen scraps, these specific efforts are particularly important since the worst of the winter weather can get the better off egg-laying birds. Hanging a bird feeder and keeping the lawn clean may seem like good ideas but they can, in fact, be counterproductive.
It is best to be well informed when it comes to supporting breeding birds, so here are some of the best practices you can apply:
1. Complete Vegetation Works by the End of Winter
Cutting or clearing hedges, trees and dense vegetation when the weather begins to warm up in the new year can disturb a nest. So it’s best to complete any major pruning work before the start of spring to support nesting birds.
2. Don’t Clear up Fallen Leaves and Twigs
If you want birds to construct the best nest for their fledgelings, you can leave a mess on your lawn and borders intentionally. Avoid clearing loose twigs and leaves from your garden, so wild birds can take advantage of them in building their nests.
3. Choose Plants That Fruit in Winter and Spring
One of the best ways to create a bird-friendly garden is to grow fruit-bearing plants that serve as a readily available, fresh and natural food source for breeding birds.
Some of the best examples would be holly berries that ripen in autumn, despite being food to a range of species amid winter. Blackberries that appear on Ivy, Hawthorns, Cotoneaster, Guelder Rose and other Rose Hips, meanwhile, can serve as an excellent treat for birds too.
4. Place Feeders Carefully Until Chicks Reach Maturity
An immediate idea to help birds survive and breed would be hanging a feeder or two in the garden. However, this technique can do more harm than good for vulnerable fledgelings.
An artificial food source placed outside the house can attract not only young birds but also predators such as grey squirrels, reducing their chance of survival. These predators can then raid nearby nests as well.
If you still want to feed wild birds, however, you can provide vital high protein food sources for them in urban areas, as far away as possible from potential nesting sites such as shrubbery and trees.
5. Leave Out Helpful Materials
Another way to provide breeding birds with some materials to build their nests is to leave pieces of fibre, string and yarn in an accessible area in the garden. Make sure that they are no longer than a couple of inches, so birds don’t get tangled.
Hair clippings from humans or pets can also help birds build nests for their eggs, making their fledgelings’ homes warmer. You can also leave some oven-dried and crumbled eggshells to help female birds restore their lost calcium.
6. Provide a Consistent, Clean Water Source
More than ever, birds can find it difficult to search for reliable sources of freshwater in today’s concrete jungles. To lend them a helping hand, especially during their nesting season, simply leave a bowl of water on the same spot in the garden every day.
Such an initiative can be particularly helpful amid extreme weather conditions, filling up the water bowl during hot days and smashing built-up ice after a cold night.
7. Avoid Any Nests Discovered
As exciting as it may seem, it is best to avoid disturbing nests that birds carefully put together. You can either scare chicks or attract predators towards it since humans leave a strong scent trail that foxes and other wild animals can pick up on.
During this time, homeowners should also try to discourage cats from climbing trees and prevent dogs from rummaging in the bushes to protect birds’ habitats.
8. Understand Which Common Foodstuffs Are Best
Attracting birds to your garden will help to reverse the trend of a declining wildlife population. It is therefore crucial for homeowners to properly understand which foods are safe for birds:
- Baked goods such as stale bread, cakes and cookies.
- Pasta and rice – be sure to thoroughly wash it and remove any oil or salt.
- Vegetables – serve these with sunflowers seeds for a perfect bird meal!
- Pet food – food designed for dogs and cats is inherently healthy as it offers the animals all the nutrients they need. This makes it an equally perfect bird-feeding alternative.