Keeping a bird-friendly garden

Feel good about your garden all year round by making it a welcome place for birds to enjoy.

Scattering the crumbs from your tablecloth is all very well, but a good-looking bird feeder will keep all kinds of wildlife happy. Here are a few tips to help you do your bit for our feathered friends.

Find a bird table that suits you: Place a bird table somewhere that isn’t too close to places where local cats may pounce, but somewhere that your child can enjoy seeing birds visit.

Feed the right things: You really only need to leave food out for birds in the colder months when there are not enough little creatures for birds to feed on from the garden itself. Opt for something like sunflower seeds, which should suit most birds – even young birds.

Keep up the feeding habit: Once you do start putting food out, try to be consistent. Otherwise, as food gets more scarce from November to January, the birds might use up their energy visiting your garden on a wasted trip.

Keep it clean: It’s easy to forget that birds need to stay healthy just like us, so when you are putting out food, brush away any old food, and every now and then give the table a wipe with water and a light kitchen disinfectant.

Feeding other visitors: You have to accept that assertive squirrels will also enjoy your hospitality. If you choose a hanging bird feeder, go for something that won’t fall from the tree with the weight of a squirrel. A metal mesh feeder will survive claws and teeth longer than a plastic one.

Bird droppings: It’s lovely to let your children admire birds from a distance, but avoid placing the table somewhere that children play near, as bird droppings and feathers can pass on harmful germs to humans.

Building nesting boxes: If you want to put up nesting boxes in your garden, doing this in winter gives visiting birds a chance to check them out before spring nesting time comes around.

Go to the RSPB website for lots of useful information about encouraging birds and other wildlife in your garden.