Grow a garden birds will love!

Attracting birds to the garden means making them want to stay

Chaffinch, great tit, blue tit, robin, greenfinch, goldfinch, wren, spotted woodpecker, jay, wood nuthatch, siskin, blackcap, swallow and many other birds of the sky help us in so many ways in the garden.

Indirect witnesses of any pollution contaminating our area, they help our ecosystems reach an equilibrium by control insect populations and spreading seeds and berries far and wide. Some species are sedentary, while other migrate away in Winter or Summer. These little ones will bring much to your garden: flashes of color, beautiful music, and a mood-lifting fluttering back and forth that’s always entertaining.

Here is how to make them feel welcome in your garden, and make sure they’re well cared for so they can continue regenerating nature.

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A bird-attracting garden

Some birds feed and nest high up in trees, whereas others forage for food on the ground and a simple, low shrub might be enough for them to start a family. To answer the needs of the many, the key here is diversify.

  • Your garden should include several stages of vegetation, each of which can offer shelter, nesting spots, and food for birds. Trees of different heights, hedges, berry shrubs, fruit trees and colorful flowers make for a great neighborhood!
  • Don’t use any pesticides, since many pests are actually food for birds. Tits feast on caterpillars and aphids for instance, and swallows nip mosquitos out from the air.
  • Leave leaves! Sorry for the pun, but at least the message sticks: in a few areas of the garden, simply leave piles of dead leaves and sticks. This’ll be a breeding spot for all sorts of insects birds love to feast on.
  • Instead of the regular, flat green grass lawn, go for a flowered lawn. Flowers attract pollinators, which in turn will attract insectivorous birds. Seeds will appeal to granivores.

Increase biodiversity, and birds will help control pests

Interesting plants to attract birds

  • Thyme (attracts bees and beetles).
  • Lavender (attracts bees and butterflies).
  • Honeysuckle (for its berries and insects).
  • Rowan (loved by thrushes and blackbirds).
  • Berry shrubs will seem inviting for hungry birdsPyracantha (red berries for birds, nectar for insects).
  • Barberry (shelters caterpillars and attracts butterflies).
  • Black elder (for its berries).
  • Hazel (houses many insects).
  • Raspberry (food)
  • Birch (much appreciated by birds for its seeds and the insects it attracts).
  • Oak (offers shelter for building nests).
  • Conifer (shelter in Winter, food)
  • Carnation (for its seeds).
  • Purslane (for its seeds and fleshy leaves).

Bird songs

Bird sing all day long, but early morning is when they give it their best. In the cool morning air, other animals are silent and birdsongs travel great distances.

  • Only male birds sing (except for a few species). Singing shows how strong he feels, and that he’s ready to defend his territory.
  • During mating season, from end of February to end of April, a male also sings to attract a female. His sexual glands swell, and the hormones they release in the brain influence his way of singing.
  • Females find this singing appealing. In some species, hormonal stimulation has been observed.
  • Once he has found a mate, Sir bird doesn’t sing as much anymore.

Birds will sing to find a mate

Feeding and giving birds shelter

To compensate the lack of food in Winter and in certain urban areas, you can consider trying to feed the birds, it isn’t very difficult. However, note that once you’ve started feeding them, you’ll have to do it year-round so that you don’t upset the bird’s routine.

  • Set up bird feeders in which you can offer the following types of seeds:
  • All-purpose bird seed mix.
  • Unsalted peeled peanuts.
  • Black sunflower seeds.
  • Niger seeds.
  • Flour worms.
  • Only give them balls of fatty foods during Winter (recipe at the end of this article).
  • Remember to display shallow trays for them do drink, avoid dehydration, and to swim in! Clean them regularly to avoid bacterial build-up.
  • Shelter during the nesting season is keyGive them birdhouses to create nests in.
  • The same birdhouse design can suit different bird species depending on the size of the entry hole.
  • Only trim your hedges when nesting season is over.

All these “bird facilities” must be set up high up off the ground to protect the birds from predators (cats, dogs…). It’ll take time for a tenant to move in: birds are cautious, spend a long time observing the area, and only slowly acknowledges changes to its environment. If you sit back and take the time to observe them, you’ll quickly be able to identify them. Birds are a somewhat gregarious group of animals and they often cohabit peacefully.

How to make bird patty with fatty foods for Winter

Bird feed ball for birds:

  • Food during hard times helps attract birds, but don't over-do it!Slowly melt margarine in a bain-marie (a double-boiler).
  • Add the seeds and unsalted peanuts (without the shells) to the margarine.
  • Let the mix cool down.
  • Place the feed balls in strategic places to feed the birds.

Success guaranteed!

A word of wisdom – “A single bird in cage and Liberty starts mourning.”

Jacques Prévert

L.D.


Image credits (edits Gaspard Lorthiois):
Pixabay: Nature-Pix, an anonymous photographer, Shauna Fletcher, Winnie C., Manfred Richter, Carola Engels