Birds are extremely beautiful and fascinating creatures. Aren’t they? They exist in different colours and sizes. They sing sweet songs for you every morning (I presume you’re familiar with their singing). Do you ever just take a moment to watch these graceful creatures?
Well, you should. It would be totally worth it. With our fast-paced urbanization, modern farming methods and other natural changes, including climate change we have succeeded in reducing the population of beautiful, chirping birds in our gardens.
If you desire to see birds going in and out of your garden, there are a few things you can do to pull them in. The presence of wildlife in your garden gives it a more realistic zest.
In addition, you are playing your part in creating a comfortable environment for some of these animals with fewer options all thanks to us.
Why Is The Bird Population Decreasing?
Just like some other organisms, the bird population has been observed to decline in the country. Some bird species have become more difficult to find. A skylark or brown sparrow isn’t as easy to sight as they used to be.
Birds are tough creatures. They have been able to adapt to our always changing environment. However, their population has still suffered a noticeable decline.
Our current farming activities which usually involve the use of drainages, pesticides and other harsh chemicals, as well as digging hedgerows, have reduced the food sources and habitat of wildlife.
Birds have also been affected by climate change. For instance, sparrows lay their eggs 15 days earlier than normal. This means that the little chicks are deprived of sufficient nutrients.
Woodland bird species like nuthatches, tits and robins are able to cope better than others with your help. They will benefit a lot from your garden.
Of course, birds have the capability to survive and fend for themselves. However, it has become increasingly difficult due to our fast-changing environment. This saddles us with the responsibility to ensure that birds are well catered for.
Fortunately, there’s a lot we can do to help. Though the common birds we’re used to aren’t that easy to find anymore. They’re still out there in search of a home and other elements they need to survive.
Your garden can be a safe haven for them. This is a huge step you can take in caring for the bird population.
Provide Clean Water
All living things need water to survive. Birds get thirsty too, so they need to constantly re-hydrate. You can provide a water source for these beautiful creatures.
Birds need access to water both in the summer and winter. It gets really hot in the summer and during the winter; it might be a bit difficult to get liquid water. Providing a birdbath will benefit birds and keep them hydrated and you’ll get to watch with pleasure as birds gather to enjoy your water bath.
You’ll need to ensure your birdbath never goes dry by constantly filling it up. You will earn the trust of your feathered friends and they’ll keep coming back if your birdbath is always filled with fresh water. Clean the bath regularly too to avoid an accumulation of algae and other unwanted organisms.
For those who like to go the extra mile, you can set up two birdbaths; one on the floor and the other hanging above the ground. Some birds may prefer to drink off the ground while others will feel more comfortable at a height.
Another option you have is a pond.
Create a little pond that’s constantly filled with water. You’ll find birds trooping in to have a drink.
Once you’ve ticked the water box, the next thing you should consider is food. Food will definitely pull birds to your garden.
Changes in weather and temperatures can mean food shortage or limited food sources for birds. Smaller birds with fewer energy reserves may die from starvation or extreme cold.
Sad, isn’t it? Well, you can help them.
Setting up feeders with a variety of foods will go a long way to save bird life especially during harsh weather. Bird food is very affordable so you won’t drill a hole in your pockets. Feeders will serve as a food source for a range of birds. However, the kind of food you have determines the kind of bird that’ll come to enjoy the feast.
Below are food options and the kind of birds to expect
- Millet Seeds: Sparrows, doves and finches
- Peanuts: Tits, nuthatches, robins and wrens
- Sunflower seeds: Most birds enjoy this.
- Nyjer seeds: Goldfinches, nuthatches, siskins, sparrows, and woodpeckers. These seeds are really small in size; you may want to use a special feeder for it.
- Fruit: A serving of currants, sultanas or diced pears and apples is a great meal for thrushes and blackbirds.
- Mealworms: Great food choice for tits and robins whether they are alive or dried up. However, be careful not to overfeed with mealworms as that could cause bone softening. Mix up with other food options like fruit, seeds and nuts.
- Fat balls: Fat balls are beneficial to a lot of birds especially during the winter when they need to store up more energy due to food shortage. However, they may not be the choicest of food in the summer and they get ruined by sunlight. Keeping fat balls in mesh bags may be problematic for smaller birds. Instead, make do with a suspended feeder or coconut halves. Tiny birds may get their feet stuck in the mesh.
- Flutter Butter: This will also serve as a source of nutrients for birds. Simply fill a container or jar with fat fits and place in a convenient position like a hanger.
Natural Food Sources
Birds are part of the wildlife. They have survived solely on natural food sources for centuries. You can grow a few plants known to attract birds like pyracantha, ivy and teasel. Their fruits will serve as food as well as smaller insects around.
To ensure birds benefit from your plants, avoid the use of pesticides and harsh chemicals. Pesticides will kill small organisms like butterflies, caterpillars and bees which are food sources for birds. That is a sure-fire way to keep birds off your garden.
What You Shouldn’t Feed Birds
Most of the food sources listed above can be fed to birds throughout the year. However, big food pieces, including peanuts might choke young birds.
While large birds will enjoy foods like split peas, beans, barley, wheat and lentils, it won’t be accepted by small birds. To keep small birds trooping into your garden, fill feeders with the food they’ll prefer.
You’ve probably seen a number of movie scenes where birds were fed with bread crumbs. However, it isn’t a nutritional option for them. Also, do not fill feeders with salty, sugary or alcoholic foods.
How To Feed Birds Easily
Once you’ve decided the kind of food your feeder will need to have, the next thing to concern yourself with is the location. The feeder needs to be placed in a spot that the birds will be drawn to – preferably somewhere hidden away.
Below are tips that will help you go about it.
Get a bird table to provide your feathered visitors with comfort while they feast. You can place the table by itself or against a fence. The table will ensure that more birds have access to the food you have provided in your benevolence.
Feeders come in different types and the one you use should depend on the food you intend to offer. The plastic feeder is suitable for seeds while the mesh-metal feeder is ideal for large-sized foods such as peanuts and fat balls.
Nyjer seeds are really tiny, they require a unique feeder. To wade off squirrels, make your feeder squirrel-proof so they don’t get away with all the goodies. If you are up for it, you can create a special feeder for the squirrels.
We also have suction feeders; they are plastic bowls that can stick to the window to keep things under your close watch. Be patient with the birds, they might be a bit reluctant. Once you’ve proven yourself to be a true ally, you will see them a lot. Stakes and teacups can also be used as feeders.
While some birds enjoy feasting from a suspended feeder, others may prefer eating off the floor. Species like robins won’t enjoy your offerings if you don’t spare some on a surface like a table or better still the ground.
Maintain Proper Hygiene
Just as it’s wise to clean up the birth bath regularly, the food sources shouldn’t be left unattended to. At least once a week, clean up the bird table and feeders using soapy water.
Birds may contract infections from spores if you don’t maintain hygiene. Also, check if there any leftovers before you refill feeders so you don’t add too much.
Keep the Environment Safe
Birds are naturally wary of predators so they prefer hidden spots. They’ll be more attracted to your garden if it mimics the wildlife. A garden with very leafy plants and small trees will serve as a resting spot for birds; they love to hide in hidden corners.
If you don’t have trees in your garden, thick bushes and hedges can suffice. However, there are small trees you can plant if you have a small garden. They’ll attract all sorts of wildlife from insects to birds while acting as a source of food for them.
While hedges are a comfortable place of nesting for birds, they can be easily replaced with panels which are inconvenient for wildlife. Bird boxes and holes can serve as a better option in that case.
Birds hibernate during extreme cold together so they can conserve their heat till it’s a bit warmer. Birds can hibernate in bird boxes during the winter and lay eggs in spring. The bird box should be kept away from direct sun rays which may affect baby birds. It should also be out of the reach of cats, dogs or other animals that may tend to harm the birds.
To prevent the spread of infections, clean the boxes once autumn arrives. In addition, you can provide roosting pouches to keep the birds safe and warm at night. They look good and are quite affordable to purchase.
Once you’ve put things in place to ensure the birds around have a place to grab a quick lunch or dinner, you might want to observe your feathered visitors.
Place food and water sources at your window
The first tactic will be to plant food close to your window so you can draw them to a closer angle where you can view them first-hand. Since birds prefer to remain within trees and thick bushes. However, if you prove to be a trusted person, they’ll come around.
Just keep the food and fresh water on standby.
They are definitely not going to escape your watch with a nice pair of binoculars. In addition, you will also get a distinct view of the bird parts, including its feathers, feet and beak.
Some birds might never get the courage to venture close to your window. Do not miss out on those beauties with your pair of binoculars. I advise you to keep them close to you, so you don’t have to scamper your room and end up missing the birds.
To keep a close eye on birds, nothing gives you as many details like a bird camera. You’ll get to watch baby birds grow and see how they live. Isn’t that nice? Ensure you install your nest camera during winter so you don’t disturb nesters.
Use a Guide
There’s so much to learn about birds and using a guide book or an app will be beneficial. You’d learn to identify various bird species, their sexes and other important things. Some bird species may look similar, but you will be able to tell the difference using a proper guide. It will also make you pretty excited when you identify a very rare species. Bird watching can be so much fun really.
Birds are amazing creatures and you can do your bit to ensure they are comfortable in this fast-changing environment. To attract birds into your garden provide them with food, water and safe spaces throughout the year. In no time, your garden will be brimming with different feathered beauties and you can even pick up bird-watching.
Win, win right? That’s what I thought.