Wild bird and garden

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How to attract birds to your garden

It’s easy to attract birds to your garden, however small and close it is to a city, but the variety of species will increase with its size, how bird-friendly it is and its proximity to countryside or well-wooded parks.

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Some birds such as nuthatches are never far from mature trees, whereas predators, such as sparrowhawks and tawny owls, penetrate deep into some cities.

The key thing is to ensure that you meet the needs of your birds all year round, and that you accommodate the changing requirements of both residents and seasonal visitors.

A garden robin in the snow. © carlp778/Getty

While planting bushes with berries is good for thrushes in the autumn, they will soon strip the crop. So think laterally – if you live near a wholesale fruit market, buy trays of substandard apples for them to feed on when the berries have gone. Fat blocks are important in the winter and will attract flocks of starlings.

Dense cover will entice nesting dunnocks, robins and wrens, and nestboxes are good for tits and other hole-nesters. During the summer, thriving insect populations benefit tits and sparrows.

If you have periods when there are very few birds in your garden, think about what you can do to make your patch more attractive at that time of year. Don’t be impatient – activity generally builds up over the years as more birds get into the habit of visiting a garden. One of the best ways to ensure that they return is to make sure your feeders are always full.

Nuthatch and Blue Tit on a full peanut feeder. © Mike Powles/Getty

FOOD, A HOME AND SECURITY: The basics of life will bring the birds to your garden

Source your seeds

Buy bird food from reputable sources. This ensures that the seeds can provide the required levels of energy and have been grown with the environment in mind. Experiment with different sorts of feeders and seed mixes. For example, greenfinches adore sunflower feeders whilst goldfinches prefer niger seeds. See the last section of this feature to find out more about this.

Goldfinches eating niger seeds from a garden feeder. © Robert Muckley/Getty

Avoid bad foods

Don’t just put out peanuts, don’t buy multi-purpose pet food and don’t feed the birds bread in large quantities as it isn’t nutritious and is an empty filler. If you do, try to only put out breadcrumbs that are soaked and not stale.

Never put out desiccated coconut as it swells up inside a bird’s stomach. Also avoid providing sugary treats and cooked oats, which can dry and solidify around beaks.

Install a birdbath

Urge your birds to see your garden as a one-stop shop for their daily routine. Water is particularly vital for seed-eating birds that have dry meals and need to be able to wash them down. Keep an eye on your birdbath to ensure it doesn’t freeze over in winter, and when defrosting it do not use salt – this can kill the birds.

Many garden birds will use bird baths and ponds to bathe. © scooperdigital/Getty

Make them feel at home

Reduce the opportunities for predators like cats and sparrowhawks by placing feeders where the birds can spot danger easily. Avoid using garden netting, especially during the breeding season, and place feeders away from your house to minimise the risk of birds colliding with windows.

Let them build their own

It’s great if your birds use the nestboxes you’ve put up, but it is even more satisfying if they create natural nest sites. Provide hedges with dense cover to allow them to do this.

Plant fruit or berry-bearing trees

Birds will be encouraged to visit your garden for shelter, nesting and to feed if you plant trees such as rowan, holly, hawthorn and honeysuckle and shrubs such as cotoneaster, berberis and pyracantha.

Rowan berries are a valuable source of food for winter visitors like the fieldfare. © Nataba/Getty

Watch what happens

To see whether your work has been effective, monitor the changes in bird numbers in your garden. What is the impact of very cold weather, for instance, on the numbers and species of birds using your garden? This will help you to plan future changes to the way you manage it. Join the BTO’s Garden BirdWatch project – it will also help you to see how well you are doing compared to others.

Have binoculars handy

Interesting birds can appear and disappear frustratingly quickly, so have a pair of binoculars to hand so you can grab them easily when you spot something.

Keep cats away

If you have problems with cats, electronic deterrents should repel them from bird feeding areas. Place feeders away from low cover that could conceal a cat – they are sit-and-wait predators and rely on cover to sneak up on their prey.

Don’t let cats near your bird feeders unless there’s plenty of glass in between! © Backyard Production/Getty

Clean your nestboxes

Check your nestboxes each winter. Remove old nests and clean the boxes with hot water to kill parasites. Re-attach them securely – you don’t want the box to fall when it’s in use.

Change nestbox location

Choose a diversity of nestbox types and move those that prove unsuccessful. If you’re struggling to attract birds to a nest box, you might find that quite a small change in location or aspect can encourage birds to nest there. Do not use too many of one type of nest box, especially tit boxes: multiple options confuse them.

It doesn’t matter how fancy your nest box is if it’s in the wrong place or not clean. © Jrg Lcking/EyeEm/Getty

Sterilise feeders

Remove mouldy seed from feeders and sterilise them regularly to reduce the risk of spreading diseases. Clean them more frequently when there are lots of birds in your garden and/or when you suspect that some are sick – keep an eye out for lethargic birds sitting around with their feathers fluffed up.

Feed your birds twice daily in severe weather

If you can, adjust the quantity given to the demand, so you don’t attract unwanted rodents. Stick to your feeding routine once you’ve started as the birds will become accustomed to it and rely on you. By feeding birds year-round you’ll give them a better chance of survival.

It’s much harder for robins and other small birds to find food in cold weather, which is just when they need food the most. © Mark Hamblin/Nature Picture Library/Getty

Position your bird feeders

Ideally the feeder should be about 2m away from cover, to create a safer feeding station. Nearby vegetation can provide a lookout point for the birds and a place to dash to if disturbed. Keep your feeder away from fences, overhanging branches and low-lying bushes that a cat can hide in.

Ensure the post supporting your feeder is smooth and straight as this will make it much more difficult for cats and squirrels to climb. Adding a sloped baffle to your feeder will keep squirrels off-balance.

Grey squirrel on peanut feeder. © Artmandave/Getty

Mount a feeding tray

The tray should be no more than 10cm off the ground (to preserve the grass) or scatter food on the lawn to attract ground-feeders such as thrushes, blackbirds, chaffinches and sparrows. If possible use a cage to protect the birds from predators.

Chaffinches are much more likely to come to food left out near the ground. © Jonathan Lewis/Getty

8 BIRDS TO ATTRACT TO YOUR GARDEN

By providing a variety of food-sources, positioning your feeders carefully and encouraging nesting, you will attract a wide range of common birds to your garden all year round, as well as a few surprises.

1

Dunnocks

Dunnocks are one of the less conspicuous garden birds, preferring dense cover both for feeding and nesting, though they are more visible when mating in spring.

Dunnock. © CreativeNature_nl/Getty 2

Jays

Jays scatter-hoard acorns, hazelnuts and peanuts in gardens, burying them in flowerbeds and lawns. They prefer areas with mature trees, especially oaks.

Eurasian jay. © Jose A. Bernat Bacete/Getty 3

Green woodpeckers

Green woodpeckers are rare visitors to gardens, but they will feed on fallen apples and berries and take seeds and nuts, especially when the ground is frozen.

Green woodpecker. © Michel Rauch/Getty 4

Fieldfares

Fieldfares will visit your garden to feed on autumn and winter berries. If you have any apple trees, leave some windfalls for them, or buy and put out low-quality apples.

Fieldfare feeding on rowan berries in Scotland. © Mark Hamblin/Getty 5

Siskins

Siskins are common garden visitors, especially if it has been a bad year for seeds, and enjoy sunflower seeds and peanuts. Redpolls will sometimes join their flocks.

A siskin on a bird feeder. © Simon11uk/Getty 6

Wood pigeons

Wood pigeons are increasingly common in gardens, where they forage under bird tables and on lawns for shoots and seeds. They breed from April until autumn.

Common wood pigeon on garden grass. © Les Stocker/Getty 7

Sparrowhawks

Sparrowhawks often target feeders in gardens, especially when they are rearing young, so make sure yours are positioned so that birds can see predators coming.

Male sparrowhawk on a mossy log. © Alan Tunnicliffe/Getty 8

House martin

House martin numbers have declined by nearly 40 per cent since 1970, most probably due to the lack of nest sites, so put up artificial nest boxes to attract passing birds.

House martins at a nest box. © Franz Christoph Robiller/Getty

Which bird foods attract which species?

Peanuts

  • Favoured by chaffinches, great spotted woodpeckers and nuthatches.
  • Don’t put these out in spring as they may choke young birds. Use high-quality nuts and check the mesh size of your feeder is about 6mm – large enough to prevent beak damage, but small enough to prevent the removal of large pieces of nut.

Great spotted woodpeckers love peanut feeders! © Tim Graham/Getty

Niger seeds

  • Favoured by goldfinches, robins and siskins.
  • Need a special type of seed feeder because the food is small.

Sunflower hearts

  • Favoured by garden finches (goldfinches, chaffinches, greenfinches), house sparrows, robins and siskins.
  • Rich in protein and unsaturated fats that don’t require the effort of removing the husks.

Mealworms

  • Favoured by blue tits, song thrushes, blackbirds and robins.
  • These live larvae are an excellent source of protein and ideal during spring to aid busy parents as they forage for a nest of hungry chicks.

Suet

  • A favourite blue tit feed, also loved by long-tailed tits and great spotted woodpeckers.
  • Calorific food best offered in colder months.

Blue tit at suet bird feeder. © Arterra/Getty

Mixed seed

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  • Favoured by song thrushes, dunnocks and collared doves.
  • Suited to hopper feeders, trays or flat surfaces.
  • New seeds: Black oil sunflower seeds are the best for attracting songbirds to your yard, but other types of seed such as safflower, millet, and nyjer will attract different species that aren’t as fond of sunflower seeds. Try adding new seeds to existing mixes or use new seeds alone to see which birds show a preference.
  • Suet: If you don’t already offer suet in your backyard, you’re missing out on attracting woodpeckers, nuthatches, and other fat-loving birds. Try different blends or make your own bird suet for the birds you wish to attract.
  • Nuts: Jays, magpies, and titmice love peanuts and peanut butter. Offer whole nuts or shelled nuts as part of your backyard buffet to attract these species, or be sure your seed and suet types also include bits of nuts.
  • Fruit: Many birds will sample fruit at your feeders, and different types of fruit are favorite choices for feeding orioles. Fruit chunks such as oranges, apples, melons, and grapes are easy to add to platform feeders and will attract many unusual birds.
  • Kitchen scraps: Bread, leftover pasta, bacon rinds, rice and other types of kitchen scraps will attract a wide range of birds. Offer scraps in small quantities to avoid attracting unwanted guests such as rodents or raccoons. Keep scraps to rare, limited treats, however, as they are not as nutritious as other popular foods.
  • Nectar: If you’ve never tried feeding hummingbirds, putting up a hummingbird feeder can bring a colorful surprise to your yard. Orioles, woodpeckers and other species will also sample from nectar feeders, depending on the size and design.
  • Natural foods: Don’t forget to take advantage of nature’s bounty, and add seed-bearing flowers, berry bushes, nectar-rich flowers, and other natural foods to your landscaping. Many birds that may be wary about unknown feeders will happily forage among familiar plants. At the same time, minimize or eliminate insecticide use to be sure insectivorous birds have plenty to eat.

Birds In The Garden: 10 PROVEN Tips to Attract & Deter

Are you a bird enthusiast that wants to learn how to attract birds to your garden?

Or are you a garden enthusiast that wishes to deter birds from your garden?

Regardless of your answer, The Gardening Dad is here today to bring you proven solutions!

After hours of research, trial and error, and talking to experts in the industry I have constructed:

The Definitive Guide to birds in your garden!

Quick Links: Attracting/Deterring Birds in the Garden

  • Why are birds beneficial to your garden? (And which species you should attract!)

  • How To Attract Birds To Your Garden (5 Tips)

  • Why are birds bad for your garden? (And which species you should keep away!)

  • How To Deter Birds From Your Garden (5 Tips)

Why are birds beneficial to your garden?

Attracting birds provides THREE main benefits.

1. Birds Help Eat and Control Bugs!

Birds eat a variety of insects, aphids, mosquitoes, spiders, and other bugs that can destroy gardens. Attracting certain species of birds to your garden can reduce your need to use pesticides.

Reducing pesticides means you will save money and not be exposed to potentially harmful chemicals in your food. It doesn’t get any better than this!

Here is a list of birds that LOVE eating bugs and other garden pests!

  • Bluebirds:
    • Bluebirds feast on grasshoppers, moths, and beetles. These insects tend to eat corn, barley, fruit, berries, roses, and soybeans.
  • Cardinals:
    • Northern Cardinals will eat beetles, snails, and stinkbugs. These bugs tend to eat roses, asparagus, soybeans, corn, lettuce, carrots, and cucumbers.
  • Chickadees:
    • Chickadees eat aphids, ants, and caterpillars. These insects tend to eat cabbage, peaches, apples, potatoes, and corn.
  • Grosbeaks:
    • Grosbeaks eat larvae, caterpillars, and beetles. These insects tend to eat tomatoes, soybeans, fruit, and berries.
  • Nuthatches:
    • Nuthatches eat earwigs, ants, and borers. These insects tend to eat beans, beets, strawberries, potatoes, cucumbers, and corn.
  • Orioles:
    • Orioles eat caterpillars, larvae, and beetles. These insects tend to eat fruit, berries, tomatoes, roses, and asparagus.
  • Sparrows:
    • Sparrows eat beetles, cutworms, and caterpillars. These insects tend to eat tomatoes, fruit, roses, soybeans, and berries.

2. Birds Pollinate Plants!

Certain species of birds are incredible pollinators for your garden flowers. Very simply, efficient pollinators help create new blooms. Extra blooms mean you’ll be able to attract even more birds! Not only this, but fresh blooms and flowers can attract great pollinator insects like bees and butterflies. Some of the best birds for pollination are listed below.

  • Hummingbirds

  • Oriole

  • Sunbird

  • Honeyeaters

If you are interested in learning about what the best plants are to attract bees and butterflies to your garden then I highly recommend reading The Gardening Dad’s article:

  • 101 Gardening Tips that ACTUALLY Work

3. Birds Help Control Garden Weeds!

Another benefit of birds in the garden is they prevent and contain weeds by eating the seeds before they ever sprout.

Finches, towhees, and sparrows are the best birds at consuming weed seeds, which can quickly spread in a matter of weeks and destroy a perfect garden.

How to Attract Birds To Your Garden (5 Proven Tips)

The tips below are great to use, regardless of whether you are a beginning or advanced gardener.

1. Use a Bird Bath Near your Garden

Not many gardeners use a bird bath to offer a fresh source of water. And when someone does purchase a birdbath, they typically don’t keep up with the maintenance!

But if you do, then you will reap incredible rewards!

Having a birdbath will attract more birds than a bird feeder. Only certain birds are attracted to bird feeders, while all birds are attracted to water.

Don’t believe me?

Check out this incredible video of a Red-shouldered Hawk drinking from Scott’s bird bath:

Here are a few different options and styles to consider:

  • Best Choice Products Bird Bath: This is your standard birdbath. It features the classic round bowl and a sturdy base.
  • Evergreen Garden Hanging Bird Bath: Hanging birdbaths are great! They feature a smaller base and but hold less water. This is a perfect birdbath to hang from a pole or off a deck.
  • Gray Bunny Deck Mounted Birdbath: Again, a smaller type of birdbath. But this is perfect if you want great views. Also, they are typically easy to clean and manage.
  • JCs Wildlife Ground Birdbath Bowl: If you want the best chance to attract birds to your birdbath then go with a ground level birdbath. This is because birds usually drink at ground level. It will also help attract other beneficial insects that can help crop pollination.

2. Use a Bird Feeder in the Garden

If you are a bird enthusiast, you most likely have a bird feeder. But if you are a gardener, there is a chance you don’t.

Bird feeders are the most popular way to attract birds to your garden. When combined with a bird bath you will continually attract birds to your garden.

When shopping for bird feeders make sure it is easy to clean and refill. Also, you want to make sure water drains effectively, and it is durable.

Make sure to place the bird feeder near the garden and in an area that has vegetation which can provide a natural habitat and protection for the birds while they feed.

Here are a few of my favorite bird feeders:

  • Woodlink Going Green Bird Feeder Check Price – Amazon

There are numerous reasons why I love this bird feeder and you will too.

First, it protects birdseed from the weather. With the rainy weather we receive in Ohio, this protects the food at all times. Also, it can hold several days of food and is easy to refill.

One of the benefits of this bird feeder is that it dispenses food at the bottom. Also, it has a great large area for birds to perch. And you can even hang it from a pole!

  • Droll Yankees Tube Bird Feeder View Price – Amazon

If you could only choose one bird feeder for your garden, it’s hard to go wrong with a quality tube feeder!

You can almost always see Droll Yankee tube feeders featured above in the live stream of Bird Watching HQ’s Live Cams. This bird feeder features multiple perches and ports for birds to feed and come in different sizes. Also, its simple design makes it easy to open and refill.

Best of all is that it is incredibly durable and has a lifetime warranty!

  • Aspects Hummzinger 12oz Dish Feeder View Cost – Amazon

I love hummingbirds, and my guess is you do too. And remember from earlier hummingbirds help pollinate your flowers!

If you want to attract them to your yard, the Hummzinger is a fantastic and reliable nectar feeder.

One of my favorite features is that it’s easy to clean and refill due to its dish design!

To read a more thorough list of incredible bird feeders then I highly suggest reading Bird Watching HQ’s article:

  • The 14 Best Birds Feeders For Your Backyard

3. Use Food That Bird’s Can’t Resist In Your Feeders!

I have an essential warning I need you to remember:

DO NOT BUY THE LEAST EXPENSIVE BIRDSEED YOU CAN FIND AT THE STORE!

The cheapest food that is typically featured is junk and usually contains ingredients that most birds will NEVER eat. Some of the most common offenders are milo, wheat, and oats.

  • RELATED: Bird Seed 101: The 10 Best Types For Wild Birds

To attract the MOST birds to your garden, stick to a combination of these foods:

  • Sunflower
  • Safflower
  • Peanuts
  • Nyjer Seed (Thistle)
  • Corn
  • Mealworms
  • Suet
  • Nectar

4. Plant Trees, Shrubs, & Flowers near your Garden

Planting native trees and shrubs in your backyard will provide some things that bird feeders can’t replicate.

Trees and shrubs provide shelter, shade, and places for birds to raise their young.

I was attempting to provide some recommendations for which trees you should consider planting. The problem is that selecting the best native plants is incredibly specific to your region. As you can imagine, gardeners living in California will need different recommendations than hobbyists living in Flordia or Ohio.

My advice is to check out this Native Plant Search Tool that Audubon provides on their website. It searches the best tree’s, shrubs, and flowers to put around your garden to attract birds!

  • Audubon Native Plants Database and Search Tool

My advice is to plant at least three different types of trees/bushes in your yard. This will give you a better chance of attracting different types of birds.

Finally, plant in areas that serve dual purposes. If you shade your house, it can lead to energy savings. Also, if you plant near other plants, it can lead to a greater chance of pollination.

Flowers that Attract Birds

The below list are flowers that I recommend planting near your garden, which will give a greater chance at attracting birds (and bee’s) to pollinate vegetables, fruits, and herbs. Please note that you can click on the link to purchase on Amazon.

  1. Petunia
  2. Dahlia
  3. Coral Bells
  4. Geranium
  5. Iris
  6. Trumpet Vine
  7. Honeysuckle
  8. Columbine
  9. Azalea
  10. Flowering Tobacco
  11. Bee Balm
  12. Sage
  13. Lily
  14. Rhododendron
  15. Lavender

If you are ever interested in growing any of these plants from seed, especially Lavender then I recommend reading TheGardeningDad’s article How to Grow Lavender from Seed: 15 SIMPLE Tips

5. Plant Fruits and Berries

Plants and berries are fantastic for both gardeners and bird enthusiasts. If you are a gardener, there is nothing better then fresh fruit from your garden. And if you are a bird enthusiast, it is a great way to attract birds to your garden naturally.

If you need good fruit trees or berry bushes I can’t say enough good things about buying them through Amazon. It is where I buy almost all of my gardening supplies and plants.

The below fruit and berries are perfect for attracting birds, such as orioles, bluebirds, robins, and warblers, to the garden:

  • Blueberries
  • Mulberries
  • Blackberries
  • Cherries
  • Crabapples
  • Apples
  • Grapes.

How to Deter Birds From Taking Over Your Garden! (5 Tips)

While we all love watching birds, not all of us love birds in our garden. And while birds can serve many great purposes for our garden, they can also cause EXTREME damage.

Certain birds will eat your prized fruit and vegetables, destroy your plants, or attract other pests.

Which birds should I keep out of my garden?

Here is a list of bird species I suggest repelling and deterring:

  • Blackbirds
  • Pigeons
  • Pheasants
  • Grackles
  • Cowbirds
  • Crows
  • Bluejays

These types of birds can destroy your garden and resources nearby. They eat tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, corn, seeds, and sunflowers.

Also, they can destroy wood, leave toxic droppings, and eat smaller birds.

Make sure to switch things up below constantly. Birds are incredibly smart and will figure out your tricks. If you rotate the tips below, you should not have any problems.

1. Use Bird Netting On Your Garden Plants.

Let’s not make this complicated. The most effective way to keep birds out of your garden is to use bird netting.

All you need to do is place bird netting over your plants or around the framework of your garden. Make sure to tie down the corners, so the mesh does not blow away. Bird netting is notorious for getting other small animals caught. And we don’t want that!

An additional tip is to purchase a UV resistant netting. This will increase durability so that you can use it for years to come!

Here are several bird netting options that I have personally used with 100% success.

  • De-Bird Garden Netting

It is made with 3/5 inch mesh to protect your plants. It has frustration free installation and is the strongest netting on Amazon. What I love about it though is that it is excellent for all year use. This is my favorite option!

  • BirdBlock Netting

This may not be the prettiest option, but it is simple. This is a sturdy and durable bird netting that is safe for birds. It is easy to install and store and best of all is reusable.

  • Gardeneers Bird-X

This final option is perfect for berry bushes, fruit trees, and strawberries. It is made with 3.4-inch mesh that is UV resistant and made in the USA!

If bird netting is not for you, there are a few other ideas you can use instead.

One idea is that you can place inverted crates or disposable (bottomless) cups over seedlings. This will protect your seeds from birds.

Or you can even place chicken wire over the seedbed. This will again humanely deter birds.

  • MTB Chicken Wire

I use chicken wire around all my roses, berry bushes, and even fruit trees. It is incredibly durable and even holds up in winter blizzards and furious winds. Best of all is that it is easy to install and does not harm birds one bit. It also serves as a great way to deter deer from your yard too!

2. Have a Party (Yes a Party!) In Your Garden.

If you are looking for a cheap, easy, and fun way to deter birds from your garden, then I recommend either spacing balloons, setting up a scarecrow, or hanging shiny ribbon in your yard! (or all three!)

Birds are naturally scared of shiny objects and items that represent predator movements. And if you have ever seen a scary movie you know a scarecrow is a no brainer for protecting your garden.

Also, every month I would rotate the above materials around the garden. If you do not, birds will become used to your tactics and promptly destroy your garden. 🙂

3. Go High-Tech to Deter Birds in your Garden

Sometimes it takes just a little extra technology to keep birds away consistently.

And there is no better product than what BirdBusters offer.

BirdBusters Bird Blaster

The Birdbusters Blaster is quite simple. You press the push-lever, and it makes such an incredibly loud and annoying noise to scare the birds away. Your hope is they remember this noise and quit coming to your garden for days on end!

4. Scare Birds Away With Realistic Decoys!

If high-tech is not for you or if you don’t want to drive your neighbors crazy then I recommend purchasing a bird diverter.

A bird diverter is something that you place in your garden that birds will see and (hopefully) be frightened away!

Bird diverters today are much different than even a decade ago. They are more realistic, more durable, and effective at keeping birds out of the garden. I would highly recommend getting a bird diverter that has predator’s eyes. Or if you can’t find something that fits your needs with predator’s eyes, then I suggest a reflector surface to scare birds away.

Here are a few popular bird diverters you can try in your garden:

BriteNway Owl Decoy

This is one of my favorite decoys and is excellent for scattering garden enemies. It comes with flashing eyes and terrifying sound. It is solar powered and is realistic and durable. Best of all the owl includes a 100% money back guarantee.

BriteNway Hawk Decoy

This hawk decoy can scare away birds and pests. It is large, has lifelike wings and eyes, and works during the day and night. Lastly, it is incredibly durable and realistic.

5. Distract Pest Birds.

Keeping birds out of the garden is hard work! And even with your best efforts they still might ignore all of the strategies mentioned above.

You may have to distract them by providing an area to visit that is even BETTER than your garden.

Plant additional vegetables, herbs, berries, or fruits. And then sacrifice some of them to the birds. By distracting birds with an unprotected berry bush or a few tomato plants, you can save the rest of your garden. I understand that this is usually not ideal, but it is an effective way to deter birds.

Conclusion

There are many benefits of attracting birds in the garden. There are also many reasons why you want to deter birds too.

This will ultimately depend on the goal of your gardening. This will also depend on where you will live and what birds are in your backyard.

As a reminder, the best ways to attract birds are:

  1. Use birdbaths to provide birds with a place to bathe and drink

  2. Install bird feeders to allow birds to eat consistently. When paired with a bird bath this is the most effective way to attract birds

  3. Plant trees, flowers, and shrubs to provide a habitat for birds

  4. Plant fruits, berries, and vegetables that attract pollinating friendly birds

  5. And of course, buy high-quality birdseed that birds actually eat.

As a reminder, the best ways to deter birds:

  1. Cover plants with bird nets. This is the most effective way to prevent birds from getting into your garden

  2. Hang balloons, shiny ribbons, and scarecrows. The key is to rotate them every month around your garden

  3. Use loud horns. Anything that makes noise, has movements or replicates predators are effective

  4. Buy realistic bird diverters – Any decoy that has predator eyes or reflective surfaces are a great way to keep birds out of your garden

  5. Distract birds by sacrificing several plants. It will help save your garden and harvest long-term.

If you have found this helpful, I encourage you to check out my website –> The Gardening Dad. You can also find me on Pinterest, Instagram (the.gardening.dad) and Facebook.

Some of my favorite articles are:

  • How to Grow Tomatoes From Seed (7 EASY Steps)

  • 20 Best Raised Garden Beds for ALL Plants

  • 12 Best Rain Barrels for ALL Gardeners

  • 15 Unique Gardening Gifts for Everyone

A special thank you to Scott at Bird Watching HQ for asking me to partner with him. Without his support, this would not be possible!

Cheers!

Paul – The Gardening Dad

A decline in natural habitats means that our gardens are more important than ever for birds.

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To attract birds, your garden needs to be attractive to them all year round. A bird-friendly garden not only offers food but water, shelter, nesting sites and protection from predators.

If you’ve put out food but birds aren’t visiting your garden, work out how you can make it more attractive – are there places for birds to shelter or take cover from predators, for example? And be patient – it can take time for birds to routinely visit your garden.

More garden birds content:

  • Top 10 plants for birds
  • Making fat cakes for birds (video)
  • Building a bird box (video)

Here are some ways to attract birds to your garden.

A bird-friendly garden not only offers food but water, shelter, nesting sites and protection from predators.

Provide natural food sources

Vivid-red berberis berries

Feeding birds with supplementary foods is very useful but it’s important to provide natural food, too. Berries and seeds are especially important. Lawns are a feeding ground for many birds, including robins, blackbirds and song thrushes. Find out how to grow your own bird food.

Provide shelter

Mature ivy growing over a support

Birds need shelter from the cold, especially on cold, winter nights. Dense, evergreen conifers, trees and shrubs are especially good, as is mature ivy. Some birds, including tits and wrens, will shelter in empty nest boxes, snuggling together for warmth.

Provide water

Pouring water into a bird bath

Birds need a supply of water at all times, to drink and to bathe in. Bathing is especially important in winter – it makes feathers easier to preen, keeping them waterproof and insulating. Shelter it from predators and keep it clean and fresh. Ensure it doesn’t freeze over in winter and defrost if needed with some hot water from a kettle. Find out how to make a bird bath.

Provide supplementary food

Placing fat balls into a wire bird feeder hanging from a tree in a snowy garden

Feeding birds in winter is essential – it helps them conserve energy and get through cold nights. But food shortages can happen at any time, so keep feeders topped up all year round – birds will rely on them. Put up a mix of foods to attract a range of species. Discover which foods suit different birds.

Provide nesting sites

A mature hedgerow

The type of nest box and its location will depend on the bird it’s for – watch our video on the different types of bird box. Put boxes in a sheltered spot, away from predators. If you can, provide natural nest sites, too, such as a dense native hedge – which will also provide food. Don’t prune hedges between March to July if birds are nesting.

Protect from cats and other predators

A tit on a wire bird feeder containing peanuts, hanging high in a tree

Birds won’t visit if they don’t feel safe. They like to be able to check for predators like cats and sparrowhawks, and need somewhere to retreat to quickly. Put feeders next to some cover, such as a tree, hedge or climber-covered fence. A prickly shrub beneath a bird feeder can help to deter cats. Move your bird feeders from time to time to break up the routine of predators like sparrowhawks.

Practise good hygiene

Scrubbing a wire bird feeder, wearing rubber gloves

Be sure to clean bird feeders, tables and baths regularly, to avoid a build up of bacteria and fungal spores that could kill visiting birds. Read our advice on cleaning bird feeders.

Old bird feed

Pouring peanuts into a wire bird feeder from a bag

Don’t let bird food go off. If your feeders are taking an age to go down, just put out small amounts of fresh food at a time and keep the rest in airtight containers. Feeding rates will rise during cold weather, when you can increase the supply.

Quality feed

Bird feeding station, with fat balls, peanuts and bird seed Advertisement

Buy good quality bird food. It’ll cost a little more, but is well worth choosing bird seed from reputable brands. Cheaper mixes will contain ‘fillers’ such as millet or wheat, which are loved by pigeons but that most garden birds won’t or can’t eat.

Bird-specific advice

  • Starlings love to feed on grubs in the lawn, so don’t use pesticides, and put up special starling nestboxes
  • House sparrows enjoy sunflower hearts. They’ll also benefit from nestboxes with 32mm diameter holes
  • Greenfinches like feeding from hanging feeders. Keep their feeding areas clean to prevent diseases. Wearing gloves, use a weak disinfectant to clean feeders and swish them out with hot water
  • Blue tits, finches and other tits will devour sunflower hearts. Offer bug nibbles for long-tailed tits
  • Thrushes wil enjoy a fruity mix on the ground – leftover, windfall or damaged apples are ideal
  • Robins love mealworms, either on the ground or on a table. Dried ones are fine, although fresh make a welcome treat

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