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Attracting Wildlife to Your Garden: Birds

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If you’re a keen gardener, you might be pleased with the way your garden is shaping up this summer. Perhaps your flowers are blooming and your water feature is trickling along pleasantly in the background while you trim the lawn, but there’s a good chance there’s one thing you could really improve upon, such as the wildlife that’s visiting – or not visiting, as the case may be!

Why is it important to attract wildlife into your garden?

As well as making your garden inherently pleasant to spend time in, a garden teaming with wildlife (such as bugs, mammals, amphibians, bees, butterflies and birds) is great for the environment. Due to the fact that so much of our land is now urbanised and used for intensive agriculture, it’s important that we share our gardens with creatures great and small, as many native species are in serious decline.

Why should you support birds in particular?

Birds really are a gardener’s best friend. Rather than having to rely on harsh pesticides and insecticides to protect your well-tended flowers and vegetables, you can rely on birds to gobble up the pesky bugs such as aphids, caterpillars, beetles and grasshoppers that would otherwise destroy all your hard work. Other species, such as hummingbirds, eat large quantities of nectar, which makes them useful pollinators.

Which birds are under threat?

Sadly, many species of birds are in decline across the country – something that has been happening slowly and gradually. For instance,  the RSPB have noted that “many well known and loved species such as the song thrush, skylark, lapwing and house sparrow” are declining in numbers, putting it down to factors such as agricultural techniques that are damaging to birds, as well as the increase of farm chemicals and changes in farm buildings. According to the RSPB’s figures, the numbers of tree sparrows declined by 95% between 1970 and 1999 in the UK, and sightings of bullfinches more than halved.

What can you do to attract birds into your garden?
If you want to encourage more birds into your back yard, begin by installing a bird bath. They’ll enjoy drinking and grooming in the water and will be a real pleasure to watch in the garden! It’s also a good idea to install a bird feeder to entice birds into your garden: they’ll appreciate the steady flow of food, especially when they find it hard to come by insects on leaner days. You can buy high quality bird feeders from www.wildbirdfeeders.co.uk, with squirrel proof varieties also available.

Finally, why not go the extra mile and make a home for birds? Species such as swifts like high, deep crevices to nest in, but since we’ve been filling in our roof spaces in modern times, their numbers have declined dramatically. Attract these birds by installing a nest box high up on a vertical wall of your property, ideally under the eaves. You need to position it at least 15 feet away from the ground, with an unobstructed flight path and make sure that it doesn’t face direct sunlight.