How to attract birds to your garden and encourage them to stay

Two birds using a hanging bird feeder.

Are you a newly inspired birder who wants to make your garden a haven for feathered friends? Read on for the basics and some more advanced top tips!

Having birds in your garden can be a real delight. On top of being marvellous to watch, they also control pests and help pollinate plants.

However, if you’ve never set up your outside space to be avian friendly, it can be a little daunting.

We’ve therefore written this article to give you a head start.

Below you will find: The basics of bird baths, tables, and feeders; information about different types of bird food; an introduction to bird houses; and some top tips for attracting birds and encouraging them to stay

This article has been formatted to be read from start to finish by someone who’s at the beginning of their birding journey.

If you have a particular area you want to learn about, click the relevant link below and you’ll be taken directly to the information you need.

Contents

Four small birds enjoying a bird bath

The basics: Bird baths, tables, and feeders

Let’s start with the basics.

Unsurprisingly, if you’re trying to attract birds to your garden, making it an attractive place for them will help.

Like all animals, birds need water and food to survive. They are therefore drawn to spaces where such sustenance is easily available.

So, a good starting place to start in attracting them is to invest in bird baths, tables, and feeders.

What is a bird bath?

A bird bath provides water for birds to drink and bathe in.

Bird baths can be made from a variety of materials, including wood, clay, and metal.

You can also buy special extra shallow baths designed for smaller species who may find normal ones difficult to reach into.

Don’t worry yourself over the choice of water you use. In general, tap water that is safe for human consumption can be used in a bird bath. However, if you’re still anxious, filtered tap water or bottled spring water will definitely be 100% fine!

A bird enjoying a filled bird bath

What is a bird table?

Bird tables allow our feathered friends to access food above ground level, making them ideal for feeding species such as robins and thrushes who prefer perching up high rather than flying down low.

Bird tables should be placed where there is plenty of cover from predators like cats and foxes. The table should also be easy for you to reach so that you can refill and clean it every week or two.

Spread some seeds, suet pellets, or mealworms out on the table area, then sit back and enjoy as colourful birds flock to the food!

A selection of bird tables

What is a bird feeder?

A bird feeder does exactly what it says on the tin. They are devices placed in an outside space that provide birds with food.

There are many different types of bird feeders available, including tube, hopper, and platform varieties.

The type of feeder you use will depend on the species you’re trying to attract, as well as your budget.

Commonly, feeders are designed to hang.

However, we’re particularly fond of the variety that attaches to windows, allowing you to admire birds from the comfort of your home!

A bird in a window-mounted bird feeder

Window-mounted bird feeders are a wonderful choice for those who want to stay warm whilst they admire the birds! Pictured above is our window-mounted feeder by Honeyfields.

What you should consider when choosing bird food

Bird food is essential to attracting birds to your gardens.

It’s important to use a variety of bird food as different species have various dietary requirements.

You should also consider whether your favourite garden bird species can survive on the types of seeds or other goodies you’re offering them – some options may not provide enough nutrition for your favourite birds’ diets!

So, if you’re looking to attract a certain type of bird, make sure to check what their favourite meal is.

Some of our favourite bird food types

1. Nyjer seeds

Africa is the nyjer plant’s native continent, and it is primarily cultivated there for its edible seeds and oil.

Nyjer seeds are extremely nutrient-rich and oil-rich despite their small size.

They especially entice hungry bullfinches, greenfinches, chaffinches, and goldfinches.

These seeds are best served directly in a seed feeder because of their small size. Alternately, you could scatter a generous handful on a bird table alongside other food mixtures.

A bird eating some meal worms

2. Peanuts

A lot of birds enjoy peanuts!

We can’t blame them. On top of being a great source of protein, peanuts are a delicious, mess-free, high-oil food that encourages slow energy release.

Long-tailed tits, robins, woodpeckers, and blue tits are among the birds that will gladly eat your peanuts.

Peanuts on a table

3. Black sunflower seeds

Offer black sunflower seeds to entice a variety of lovely birds to your outdoor space.

Many different kinds of birds, including coal tits, goldfinches, chaffinches, and siskins, are attracted to and enticed by black sunflowers.

Black sunflower seeds

You can grow your own food for birds as well

Planting trees or bushes with berries and fruit will entice birds who enjoy such food

You can also attract birds by planting a variety of flowers and shrubs that are popular with different species, such as nectar-bearing plants like honeysuckle and lilac.

A bird in a bush

Give birds a place to nest in your garden with a bird house

Now that you’ve made your garden an attractive place for birds, give them the option to move in with a bird house!

What is a bird house?

A bird house is a man-made shelter provided for birds to nest in.

Elsewhere you will find such a type of shelter referred to as a  bird nesting box, a bird box (not the 2018 film), or the singular word birdhouse (not the Tony Hawks-owned skateboarding company).

Bird houses are either open-fronted or have an aperture for birds to gain entry depending on which species of bird they are designed for.

They are a great way to attract and keep birds in your garden. However, only certain types of birds use them. So, if you have specific types of birds you’d like to nest in your garden, check now to make sure you’re not disappointed.

As a rule of thumb, the species most likely to use nest boxes are members of the tit family, sparrows, nuthatches, robins, woodpeckers, and wrens.

A Bird House for Blue Wrens

Bird houses are what you need to get feathered friends nesting in your garden. Pictured above is our bird house for blue wrens.

The right size entrances for different types of birds

As previously mentioned, different types of birds need different sized entrances.

For example, the following opening sizes are required for these birds:

  • 0.5 inch – Finches
  • 1 inch – Blue, coal and marsh tits
  • 1.1 inch – Great tits, tree sparrows, and pied flycatchers
  • 1.3 inch – House sparrows and nuthatches
  • 1.8 inch – Starlings
  • 4 inch – Robins

Handily, most bird houses you can buy will offer suggestions as to what species they’re suited for.

Where should you place your bird house?

The best location for a bird house is one that is elevated and can be seen from a distance. A minimum height of approximately 1.5 metres is required – though the higher the better.

Make sure the location you choose is away from constant direct sunlight. If not, there is a chance that the hatchlings inside the box will perish from heat exhaustion.

If the box has an open front, it needs to be well buried in vegetation.

A selection of colourful bird houses

When to clean out your bird house

It’s crucial to get rid of old nests after a bird house has been used and abandoned.

Species like the blue tit won’t use it again if it isn’t taken away.

Early autumn is the best time of year to clean bird houses, with the old nest being thrown out and any other materials brushed out.

Cleaning bird houses will also get rid of bugs, who frequently make them their homes. It’s best to keep the interior of the box as dry as possible, so when cleaning out the box, just use a small, stiff brush.

Top tips for attracting birds and encouraging them to stay

Now you know the basics, here are some further tips to attract birds and encourage them to stay:

  • Keep food and water close by. Don’t give them just one thing to eat or drain – vary what you offer and make sure it’s fresh.
  • Keep predators away from bird houses and feeders. If your garden is full of cats, squirrels, or other predators, consider hanging a bird house on a tree branch where they can’t climb up to it.
  • Birds don’t like loud noises that disrupt their peace and quiet. So, keep people away from nests as much as possible when young are learning to fly. Also, consider some background music while you’re gardening – it’ll help mask any human sounds while still allowing you access when needed.
  • Position feeders close to your bird house to entice feathered visitors to begin exploring your garden. For tits, try leaving out peanuts or sunflower hearts; for woodpeckers and nuthatches, suet; and for robins, wrens, and thrushes, mealworms.
A bird house on a hanging ornament

Conclusion

Hopefully, we’ve given you some great ideas for how to attract birds to your garden.

Birds are a beautiful addition to any space, and their unique songs can bring joy to even the most jaded soul!

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