Birds in spring

Get into the garden: How to encourage birds into your outdoor space

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By Rebecca Shepherd, 13 March 2017
Get into the garden: How to encourage birds into your outdoor space

If there are three things that scream 'spring' it's the lighter mornings, warmer weather and of course, the rather enchanting sound of birds singing in your garden. 

"Make your garden a patchwork of different habitats with a hedge, a pond, a meadow, trees"

Whether it's a house sparrow, a robin or a collared dove, there really is nothing quite like hearing the lovely welcoming tune of birds flitting around your garden flying from one spot to the other. 

So, this spring why not turn your garden into a bird-friendly paradise filled with seeds, water and nests which they'll love visiting all year round?

According to Jamie Wyver from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), spring makes for the perfect time to start thinking about creating your outdoor haven. He said: "Now is a good time to plan your planting so that you can really help birds and your garden’s other wild inhabitants throughout the year."

With Jamie's help we've put together some tips on how you can get your garden bird-ready this spring. 

How can people attract birds into their garden?

When it comes to encouraging birds into your garden, Jamie said you need to see your garden from a bird’s point of view as they’ll be looking for food, water, and perhaps somewhere to nest.

Jamie said: "Birds will also be seeking somewhere to shelter and hide from predators, such as a dense hedge or a thick growth of ivy."

Another trick you could try would be to supply clean and fresh water in your garden or create a mini pond outdoors with the kids.

Jamie added: "If you supply clean, fresh water, birds will be able to drink, and bathe to keep their feathers in good condition. In winter this becomes even more important as other sources of water may be frozen over. 

"A pond is one of the best presents you can give nature in your garden, even if you just start with an old washing up bowl. Bury it in the ground, line with stones and grit, add some water plants like water mint and frogbit, add water and wait to see what turns up.

"Carefully positioned logs and rocks will help frogs, newts and toads get in and out, and plant stems will allow dragonfly larvae to emerge. Birds will be able to drink, bathe, and eat the insects the pond attracts."

What about people with small outdoor spaces?

If you don't have a garden or have a rather modest-sized outdoor space, there are still ways to encourage birds to come and say hi.

Jamie said: "Take a look around your neighbourhood. What’s missing that birds might need? A pond? A tree or shrub? Or perhaps you can help with a regular supply of food from a bird feeding station, out of reach of local cats.

"If you can fit in just one of these things then you could soon start attracting feathered visitors. If you don’t have a garden at all, then plants on your balcony, or a bird feeder stuck on your window can still help feed hungry birds."

What sort of environment do birds like?

You've placed a bird feeder outside, topped up the water supply and created a mini pond. So why haven't any birds flocked into your garden?

"Many of the birds that you see in your garden would originally have been found in woodlands," Jamie said. "So a good mixture of plants, including trees and shrubs, will be very welcoming to them. For example, native bushes like hawthorn give birds a safe place to nest and a supply of berries to eat in the winter."

According to the RSPB birds and other wildlife will also really benefit from parts of a garden we might consider untidy - which is great news for all those who don't have the time to spend hours in the garden. 

"House sparrows, whose numbers have declined dramatically over recent decades, seem to love a thick, tangly hedge," Jamie said. "Make your garden a patchwork of different habitats with a hedge, a pond, a meadow, trees, a nettle bed and grass for maximum effect."

What sort of food do birds love?

Just like all humans, different birds have different needs.

Jamie said: "In spring and summer many will be looking for insects and spiders to eat and to feed their chicks. You can help by attracting those insects. A pond, a log pile, and a wildflower meadow, however small, will all draw in all kinds of tiny fluttering, crawling and scuttling creatures for the birds to feed on.

"Later on in the year, birds like goldfinches will be looking for seeds to eat. You can give them a hand by growing plants like Michaelmas daisies, sunflowers, teasels and thistles."

Plus don't forget to keep your garden stocked up with seeds and nibbles.

Feeling inspired to turn your garden into a bird-friendly habitat? Make sure you stock up on all you need at Asda or pop into your local store. Or, for more tips on how to plant a flower visit here