I’ve wrote a lot about our wildlife garden, in relation to attracting moths, butterflies, bats, bees and dragonflies for example. Recently, I was asked to speak about what we’ve done to help garden birds, from food sources, shelter, places to drink & bathe and great nest building sites.
The plant that birds appreciate the most in our garden…would definitely be the ivy, which is all over our backyard and border wall. In autumn, the flowers attract insects, when not much else is around, which in turn provides food for robins and wrens. In patches it can be so thick and dense, providing shelter for nesting birds, such as blackbirds, dunnock and wrens. In summer you can hear the rustling of moths, waiting to head out into the heady nights. At dusk yesterday, loads of large yellow underwing moths flew out, the bats were out within minutes!
And it’s win win with the wildflowers in our dry garden, as they attract the insects that birds love to feed on. We enjoy the gorgeous flowers, and the birds fill their bellies!
Plants and flowers are the best natural sources of food…berry-rich trees and shrubs like the rowan and hawthorn in our garden are great natural food sources and also help to provide shelter too. The popular climber, honeysuckle provides berries and shelter for birds such as thrushes, and bullfinches. In summer, its heady scent attracts my mum (!) and lots of insects, which in turn provides food for a different range of birds.
Everyone loves sunflowers, right? We’ve a load of multi-headed ones at the mo; once they’ve done their bit and flowered, leave the flowers to form large seed heads as they provide oil-rich grub throughout autumn for finches and other seed-eating birds.
Shelter and access to water…. our garden is surrounded by shrubs and trees, and next door’s privets that line the edge of our garden get lots of sparrows due to its dense foliage and close proximity to the bird feeder and pond.
One of our ponds has a shallow beach area, where birds can bathe and drink. Obviously it’s great if you have a pond, but access to any kind of water container is really important, especially during the winter when some areas may be frozen and in dry, hot weather when water can be hard for birds to find.
Plants and flowers to support birds that are in decline.. we’ve got a couple of fruit trees and I’ve planted loads of crab apple trees in community orchards & gardens, now they’re great for blackbirds and starlings. I once saw waxwings munching on crab apples over at Hulme CGC, that was a rare treat!
If I was to recommend one bird-friendly plant or flower to add to your garden….it would have to be the Berberis. The orange flowers are literally buzzing with bees in spring, then the blackbirds eat the purple berries in autumn, leaving purple poo all over the garden! Over the years, ours has taken a bit of a battering from the easterly winds, but it always seems to bounce back!
We’re currently creating a new space at the back of the top garden. We’ve been digging it out and clearing the area ready to plant a new shrub. This attracted a pair of song thrush, and after feasting on the rowan above, one popped down to the ground for a juicy worm!
I’ve always described gardens as your own mini nature reserve and hopefully you can create your own too. Good luck!
Let me know in the comments below, how you support our garden birds, I’d love to hear from you!