How to attract birds to your garden
If you’ve been wondering how to turn your garden from a simple show piece into a wildlife wonderland of bird species, then you’ve come to the right place. There is so much more to a garden than just greenery and with a few simple steps you could soon be listening to the pleasant chirping of birds whilst you relax on your patio.
Plants are the foundation to attracting different bird species as they provide nesting spots, safety, food, and shelter. You may want to do some research on the birds in your area to find out exactly what they like and, from there, make a list of suitable plants. Remember that local is often better as the birds will instantly recognise the trees and plants and be drawn to stop in and visit. Not to say you now need to go pull up your entire garden – simply planting a few interesting shrubs or installing a feeder and bath would be more than enough. One thing to remember is that your garden should mimic a natural habit as far as possible, with a canopy level of trees and large shrubs, a middle level of medium sized plants, and a ground level of small plants and ground cover. Birds will be attracted to gardens where they feel secure so minimize the opportunity for predators, such as cats, to reach them.
Another important thing to remember is that birds will be drawn to gardens that provide food and water. Feeders are great options but can become a bit costly if you start providing different fruits, seeds, suet balls, etc. An alternative to feeders is to plant indigenous trees, shrubs, grasses and flowers which will provide food throughout the seasons. Although the cost of doing this at the start may put you off, in the long run it will mean a low maintenance, bird-friendly garden.
- Fruit trees will attract birds such as barbets, bulbuls, and hornbills.
- Plants such as honeysuckle, aloe, and red-hot pokers will attract nectar feeders such as sunbirds, sugar birds, and Cape white-eyes.
- Leaving mulch in your garden will attract small insects and worms, ideal for attracting flycatchers, thrushes, wagtails, and hoopoes.
- Grass that is left to grow and seed, plus seed put out on feeders, will attract weavers, finches, and waxbills. Remember to regularly change the birdseed in your feeder to avoid it going moist and mouldy.
Drinking and bathing spots can be installed in the form of a bird bath or even a little wetlands area with a pond and small water feature. Your garden size and budget will obviously determine what you are able to provide. Make sure that the water is placed in a quieter part of the garden, near thicker foliage and adult trees. If you really want to catch the birds’ attention, make sure that they can hear the water by adding a small fountain, dripper, bubbler, or mister. Make sure that the water level in your bird bath is not too deep so that even the smaller birds are able to stand in it and enjoy it. If you really want to get fancy you could even install a pond and stock it with fish which would attract kingfishers!
Last but not least, it is vitally important not to use pesticides or other poisons in your garden as these are harmful to the birds as well as the insects which many birds feed on. You’ll see that as you create your very own bird paradise the natural ecosystem will develop and you’ll have the perfect little garden full of not only all the birds you love, but also a variety of other interesting and beautiful creatures.