As organic techniques go, there can be few more rewarding than encouraging birds into your garden. Not only do they consume plenty of pests (aphids, slugs, snails and so on), they are also a pleasure to have around. It’s a sad fact that many of our native species are in serious decline, the main cause almost undoubtedly being habitat loss. As towns sprawl ever outwards, disused land, green public spaces and even our gardens are snapped-up by developers (if ever a profession was misnamed!).
While the seed heads and fruits of autumn make it a bountiful season for birds, as we move towards winter the natural supply of food becomes more scarce. This is unfortunate for birds because the falling temperatures require them to expend more energy keeping themselves warm, so it’s pretty obvious that any help from gardeners will be greatly appreciated.
Winter is a good season for watching birds however, as many bushes and trees have shed their leaves. Hunger also makes some birds bolder – look out for robins, and for thrushes foraging on your lawn. So what can you do to attract these useful allies? Water is hugely important, and you should try and maintain a reliable supply of clean water in a shallow container – try putting the lid of your water butt on upside down; if it fits, top it up straight from the butt each day.
Food is also vital, and quality is a very important factor. I have on occasion bought cheap, end of line feeds thinking ‘every little helps’, but in fact they generated little interest from the birds. One batch, bought from a major DIY chain, was infested with meal moth grubs which proceeded to break out of the packaging and eat through most of the dry food in my kitchen cupboards! I now stick to reliable brands, and try to buy little and often from a good supplier so I can be sure the food is fresh. Have a look at Original Organics’ new range of Kingfisher bird feed for a little inspiration.
Until next time!