Attracting birds to your garden

If you have been out and about on the roads of Donegal lately you will probably have noticed that this has been a very good year for berries. Mountain Ash and Holly trees have all produced bumper crops which is great news for the wild bird population. While food is plentiful at the minute, the weather is really starting to turn colder. Once the first frosts arrive many of these berries will drop and become harder to find. As this food supply runs out many birds will once again find it tough to get enough food to see them through the winter months. With this in mind now is a great time to start feeding the birds that visit your garden.
   It is very easy to attract a wide variety of birds to your garden through the winter months. Regardless of their species all birds have the same basic needs, food, shelter and water. If you can provide for these needs on a regular basis you will soon find that you have a whole host of new friends visiting your garden. If you haven’t done it before now is a great time to start feeding the birds that visit your garden as now is a time when they really need a helping hand and if you can get birds into the habit of visiting your garden through the winter months they will very often keep coming back all year round.
   Probably the most obvious way of attracting birds to your garden is to supply them with food. As winter approaches many wild birds need a helping hand to survive and anything that you can give them is greatly appreciated. If you are trying to attract a wide range of birds to your garden you should provide two or three different types of bird food and vary the ways that you provide it. There is a huge variety of bird feeds on the market, all of which are high in nutritional value. While these specialist feeds are great it is important not to overlook household scraps and crumbs. Things like bread, pasta, potatoes, apples and dried fruit can all be left out on the bird table or in hanging feeders. When feeding garden birds there are a couple of rules that you should always follow. These include, storing the food properly in sealed containers as mouldy food can often be harmful to birds and cleaning up any left over food that falls from feeders as it could attract vermin.
   Along with a constant food supply birds visiting your garden will also be attracted by the availability of water and shelter. Throughout the year birds need water for drinking and bathing, as this helps to keep their feathers in top condition. When providing water it is important to ensure that the container is clean and that the water is refreshed every couple of days. During particularly cold snaps it may also be necessary to make sure that the water hasn’t frosted over. Along with food and water birds also require shelter. This is essential for feeding, nesting and hiding from predators. When hanging feeders or positioning a bird table it is important to place them near bushes or trees where visiting birds can escape from predators such as cats.
© Copyright, Highland Landscapes, Letterkenny, 2008.