I love birds – I always have. When I was younger I remember being entirely torn. I desperately wanted my own bird, they were so fragile and chirpy. I felt that it would be impossible to feel sad with a bird singing in the background. But then the thought of a caged bird was in itself depressing. The only way I could have one would be by limiting its freedom and the reason that birds brought me joy was because they were freedom made flesh. This caused me much turmoil.
Luckily living on the smallholding has sorted this problem for me. We are lucky enough to have a variety of birds that come and eat from our bird table: robins, thrushes, nuthatches – even one particularly curious woodpecker. My favourite though is the blue tit (and not just for the amusing name). I could watch them all day.
You don’t need acres to encourage wildlife though, and our British wildlife can do with all the help we can offer it. In this post I’m going to discuss how you can make your land, whether it’s a patch of garden or a farm, more hospitable to our feathered friends.
The first thing that needs covering is the law surrounding wild birds. Most of it is common sense but the main points are worth stating none-the-less.
– Do not take, damage or destroy the nest of any bird whilst in use.
– Do not kill, attempt to kill or harm a wild bird (duh)
– Do not take or destroy the eggs of a wild bird
– Do not disturb wild birds whilst with or near their young
– Do not have in your possession or control any wild bird recently killed
There are more laws, and you can read up on the entire list here, but this simple general question should steer you right: is what you’re about to do what’s best for the bird? If you follow this advice you should usually land on the right side of the law. Now, moving on.
Birds will be best encouraged to your home with food, especially in the winter months when their usual resources are scarce. Bird feeders are great for this particular task and different foods will encourage different birds (I’ll go into that in further detail in a bit!). Keep in mind that a food table rather than hanging bird feeders may attract less welcome visitors such as squirrels. You may love squirrels and be pleased at their visitation but be warned: squirrels eat bird eggs and fledglings. If you particularly want to encourage the local bird population then hanging bird feeders are your safest bet.
There are also more long term options for encouraging local birds such as including certain plants in your garden. Below is a list of the most common shrubs and wild plants that will help attract birds.
Now, not all of these are pleasant. I know that if I had a small garden with my little brother and sister about I wouldn’t want to be encouraging nettles and hawthorns. I also know that we do our very best to keep the birds off of our cherry trees! This is also a very basic list so just because something isn’t on there doesn’t mean the birds won’t like it.
I’ve included images because many of these plants may already be on your land or in your garden. Many landscaped plots have japanese laurel, honeysuckle and climbing roses and most overgrown plots will include nettles, blackberry and thistles. Plus all the images look so pretty!
Most birds are omnivores so berries and plants alone won’t be enough to keep them going! Luckily the more vegetation in your garden the more crawly critters will be around to feed the local birds. Below is a table of British wild birds that you may be lucky enough to see and their eating habits (by the way, if you have kids this is the sort of table that is great for printing off and doing “bird bingo” over the summer!
Right. Well I think that’s enough information to get you started on turning your little patch of land into a wildlife sanctuary! If you have any questions or anything that you’d like to know then make sure you follow and comment!
Chow for now.
P.S. The graphs are not perfectly in line at the moment, I’m aware of that and it’s driving me mad, but I’ll alter it when I have another spare few minutes. I’ll also upload better quality with a download link for the graphs.