Feed the birds

Feed the garden birds. They are the gardeners’ friends and bring life and soul to the garden party.

Blue tits on a feeder.
Blue tits on a feeder. Image: Martin Mulchinock
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Garden birds are an absolute delight. They add sound, movement and drama to the garden. Flitting around in the bushes, hopping from post to post and scuffling in the undergrowth looking for food.

Birds are the life force of the garden. Their grace and beauty is beyond compare. Their bird song fills the air from dawn until dusk. These little creatures are the most vital weapon in the war on garden pests and they need our help. However large or small your garden, there is always a way to support these delightful creatures.

Goldfinch and siskin on a feeder
Goldfinch and siskin on a feeder
  • Add a bird feeder full of seeds or nuts and your garden comes alive instantly. It’s a reliable source of food that the birds will return to again and again.
  • Get the kids involved. Birds are a wonderful way to help children understand about nurture. If they hanker for a pet, let them encourage some wildlife into the garden first to gauge their interest. They can have dozens of garden pets first. Help them to learn about nature and the beauty and value of living things.
  • Keep a notebook to record what bird species visit the garden. Let them draw them and take photos of them. It’s a great school holiday project and will give them an interest outdoors and a knowledge that will boost their confidence.
  • Even in the midst of winter garden birds must bathe to keep their feathers in tip top condition and like all creatures, birds need a fresh supply of water too. A shallow container of water provides life-giving moisture.
  • Your little feathered garden friends help lift your spirits on a dull day. Watch as they interact with each other, queuing up to feed and squabbling over the water bath. Once they feel safe and welcome in your garden they will entertain you throughout the daylight hours.
  • Struggling for a gift idea? Give a nest box and feeder to elderly friends and relatives, so that they can feed the birds and enjoy a new interest. It’s amazing what a difference it can make to someone that lives alone.
  • Gardens provide a fantastic source of natural food. There are bugs all around that birds love to eat. Ground-feeding birds such as robins, black birds and thrushes devour masses of garden pests. Blue Tits will feast on aphids on your roses. Sparrows eat flies.
  • Fruiting plants with berries are a vital source of winter food. For a bird friendly boundary in larger gardens plant native hedging with hawthorn, blackthorn and hazel. In a small garden, plant sunflowers and leave the seed heads on your plants through the winter.
  • Crab apples are great for small gardens. They have amazing spring blossom followed by tiny, miniature apples to make tasty jelly and jam. The out of reach fruit is perfect food for winter birds when the ground is frozen or covered in snow.
  • A window feeder where you can watch safely indoors is a great way to see the birds close-up.
  • Different birds eat different things. Some eat mostly insects like the robins; treat them to mealworms. Others prefer seeds, such as finches; spoil them with hulled sunflower seeds. The blue tits and great tits simply love high-energy peanuts. Or choose a top quality bird food that contains something for all of them and keep a record of what comes to feed and when.
Jean Vernon

About Jean Vernon

Jean Vernon is a slightly quirky, bee friendly, alternative gardener. She doesn’t follow the rules and likes to push the boundaries a bit just to see what happens. She has a fascination for odd plants, especially edibles and a keen interest in growing for pollinators especially bees. She’s rather obsessed with the little buzzers. Telegraph Gardening Correspondent, mostly testing and trialing products and Editor-In-Chief for Richard Jackson’s Garden.
@TheGreenJeanie
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