How To Encourage More Birds to Visit Your Garden

We have never been able to feed birds in our garden; our cats, both voracious hunters in their prime, made short work of any unsuspecting fledgeling in the hedgerow.

Sadly, one of our cats recently passed away after a long, happy life. Since her death, our other cat has gone completely deaf. Although she doesn’t seem to have noticed any drop in her quality of life, her days as a hunting cat are far behind her. A somewhat happy consequence of this is that we can now encourage birds into the garden without prompting their premature deaths.

My mum picked up a couple of fat balls at the shops, and we set them up in trees and waited…and waited… and kept on waiting. We had half-expected a flock of birds to immediately descend from the sky—but for weeks, no birds visited the garden. Clearly, we had not yet been forgiven for the years of torment at the hands—or rather, paws—of our cats.

Slowly but surely, the garden began to fill with birds. We started out with blackbirds and robins, but as time has gone on, more and more species are filling the trees. If you’re struggling to attract birds to your garden, here are a few tips that helped us on our journey to becoming twitchers.

  • Use different food sources: Once we started varying the type (and style) of feed, more birds started to arrive in the garden. Try sunflower hearts, peanuts, fat balls, mealworms, coconut and even chopped up fruit; you might find that different species prefer different foods. On top of this, it can help to vary how you present the food to the birds; try using a bird table, a hanging feeder, or even scattering the feed on the ground (if you’re in an area where cats aren’t likely to take advantage!)
  • Strategically position your feeders: Make sure your feeders are positioned somewhere where birds feel safe. Birds like to have a clear view of their surroundings so they can avoid approaching predators, but also like to have the option of flying to safety in a nearby tree. Try and find a happy medium.
  • Don’t forget about water! Birds always appreciate being able to take a bath, and naturally, they need to drink too. Adding a birdbath or even just a shallow pot with water in might help to draw in some extra visitors.
  • Attract insects and birds will follow: Attracting insects to your garden has intrinsic benefits for the environment, but it can also help to attract more birds. The RHS has great advice on which plants to choose. 
  • Be patient! This is probably the hardest one. It’s tempting to scrap a new routine if it doesn’t lead to any changes, but these things take time. If you provide a safe environment, the birds will come—even if it takes a couple of weeks.

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