How To Attract Birds To Your Garden: What You'll Need
There’s nothing quite like sitting in your garden, sipping on your favourite drink, and listening to the chorus of bird song fill the air. The soundtrack to many well-spent afternoons in the garden, walks in the woods, and strolls through the British countryside, the UK boasts a whopping 574 different species of native birds that add to this symphony-like chorus.
Flocks of feathered friends can truly help to transform your garden from dull to delightfully full of life, and there’s a whole host of ways you can encourage these wild visitors to make an appearance. In this guide, we’ll take you through our top tips and tricks to make your outdoor space a haven for birds throughout the year. From tasty treats to relaxing retreats, it won’t be long before your garden is simply buzzing with wildlife. Just be prepared to break out the binoculars because you’ll have birds flocking to your outdoor area in no time!
How to attract birds to your garden
Keeping birds coming back for more once they’ve visited your garden is one thing; attracting them in the first place is another - it can be harder than you’d think to entice these captivating creatures into your outdoor space! Thankfully, we have some top tips to help you attract your new feathered friends and keep them happy in your garden.
Step one is, of course, to kit your garden out with a feeder and a bird bath! By putting out a bird feeder and/or bird table filled with food for your local bird population, you’re giving them a good, reliable food source that they can fall back on if there are shortages in the wild. You’ll quickly find that the birds in your garden will get used to your routine and will wait patiently while you refill your feeders.
Position any feeders or bird tables out in the open so that predators such as cats, foxes, and birds of prey can’t sneak up on the dickie birds frequenting your makeshift restaurant. You’ll also want to offer plenty of cover for them, such as trees, shrubs, and hedges, so they have somewhere to hide if danger does present itself. Speaking of somewhere to hide, birdhouses and nesting boxes provide birds with the perfect place to raise their young and protect their eggs from predators, so investing in a birdhouse is a no-brainer if you want to see birds return to your yard year after year.
Next, make sure you have plenty of fresh water on offer. A bird bath is the best and easiest way to offer this. Make sure you keep the water clean and refill it regularly, even during the winter - the birds will appreciate it. From keeping themselves cool to dislodging dirt and having a drink, bird baths fulfill a range of vital requirements.
Finally, keep to a routine and be consistent. Birds won’t stay loyal to places that don’t regularly provide them with food. By sticking to a routine and refilling the treats at the same time each day, the birds will come to understand that food will be topped up every day and will be more likely to stay in the area.
Also, it’s important to make sure you’re feeding them all year round. Food shortages can happen at any time of the year and the food you offer your birds could have a huge impact on their chance of survival, so be consistent! By following these tips, birds will be flocking to your garden and you’ll be able to enjoy their presence all year round.
What food can wild birds eat?
Helping garden birds can be as rewarding for you as it is for them. By using bird tables and hanging feeders, avid nature-watchers can bring wild birds right up to your windows for close encounters of the feathered kind. Plus, birds are also a gardener's best friend as they often eat insects that like to dine on your budding veggies, such as caterpillars, grasshoppers, and locusts.
To attract a range of different species of birds to your garden, you’ll need to cater to their various diets. Naturally, a greater variety of bird food will attract a wider variety of birds, so make sure you stock up on all kinds of tasty and tempting options to keep your flock happy. For example, robins and blue tits will enjoy protein-rich offerings such as mealworms and suet or fat balls, whereas sparrows would rather enjoy bird seed mixes or millet.
You can even go the extra mile and plant natural food sources for them - berry trees and certain flowers make a delicious snack for your birds and will ensure their return year upon year. Below is a list of all the different types of food you can put out for your garden birds.
- Seeds and grains such as nyjer, millet, oats, and sunflower seeds
- Unsalted peanuts - to protect chicks from being fed whole nuts and choking, peanuts are best offered in good quality mesh feeders
- Cooked pasta or rice
- Plain boiled potatoes
- Uncooked, unsalted bacon rind
- Raisins and sultanas - make sure to keep dogs away from these though!
- Fat or suet balls attract a wide range of species - buy ready-made or make your own
- Apples, pears, and soft fruits make a great treat in autumn
- Insects such as mealworms or wax worms
Offer them a tasty snack
The first step to coaxing your birds into your garden is to offer them something tasty and nourishing to see them through food shortages and difficult seasons. Not to mention, as touched on above, some birds will also happily dine on leftover bits of food such as cooked pasta, plain boiled potatoes, cheese, and uncooked, unsalted bacon rind. So, if you dislike food waste and want to boost the number of wild birds in your backyard, leaving these tasty nibbles outdoors is a useful (and appreciated!) alternative to simply throwing them away.
Dawn Chorus Fat Balls
Pros: An essential energy source during winter, ideal for attracting robins, blue tits, coal tits, and thrushes
Cons: Requires a specific fat ball feeder, can go rancid if left out for too long in warm weather
When it comes to feeding your garden birds all year round, you can’t go wrong with these high-energy fat balls. A tasty treat for many species and an essential source of energy in the winter, your robins, blue tits, coal tits, and nuthatches will all love pecking at them. Un-netted, these high energy fat balls are perfect for placing atop flat bird feeders, allowing hungry birds to feast until they’re full! Alternatively, you could also place them in a dedicated fat ball feeder (although it’s worth bearing in mind that this isn’t included) to coax birds to different areas of your garden with ease.
Fat balls are also a relatively mess-free food source for your garden, so they’re ideal if you have pets that will happily hoover up any leftovers. Indeed, whereas seeds can be scattered around by the birds all over your garden, fat balls stay pretty much intact. So, if you’re looking for a way to feed the birds without creating a mess of your patio or garden, these are the way to go! Not to mention, this particular 12.75kg pack contains a hefty amount of nourishment as it equates to 150 individual fat balls - providing you with months of food for your feathered friends.
Spear & Jackson No Wheat Bird Seed Mix
Pros: Ideal for all kinds of garden birds, super versatile mix, multipack for convenience
Cons: Bird seed can be quite messy, feeder will require regular sweeping up and cleaning
Offering a ready-made bird seed mix is the best way to appeal to multiple different species of garden bird and, if there’s a lot of them, you’ll probably find that they’ll descend on your feeders like a plague of locusts. Well, you’re in luck because this multipack of bird seed mix will last you a lot longer than singular mix packs, letting you attract birds from far and wide for as long as possible before you need to purchase more. Plus, this wheat-free mix won’t encourage as much waste because most birds will avoid wheat seeds in favour of ones that have more nutritional value.
The lack of wheat seed will also mean fewer pigeons will be attracted to your feeders, leaving plenty for the smaller birds that really need them. Ideal for decanting into seed and ground feeders, as well as bird tables, this seed mix is wonderfully versatile. However, these loose seed mixes are typically some of the messier bird foods when compared to fat balls or mealworms as they can easily fall and be scattered across your garden. Plus, the feeder you use will also require regular cleaning to ensure any leftover seeds don’t accidentally sprout in the rain!
Feeding the birds
While you can scatter the bird seed around your garden to encourage foraging, you’ll only really attract a few species of birds with this method. That’s why we recommend getting a feeder or feeding station. While some species such as blackbirds, pigeons, and thrushes will enjoy scratching around in the grass for food, you’ll be excluding many more species of birds that prefer to eat from feeders while also encouraging squirrels, mice, and rats into your garden which isn’t ideal. So, which bird feeder should you select? Carry on reading to find out!
Kingfisher Traditional Bird Feeding Station
Pros: Holds multiple different types of food at once, can be set away from trees and squirrels
Cons: Doesn’t include hanging feeders, needs to be installed in ground, not squirrel-proof
The best option for feeding lots of different birds all at once, this traditional bird feeding station from Kingfisher comes with all the bells and whistles your feathered friends could desire. Encouraging birds of all shapes and sizes into your garden not only makes for a wonderful way of connecting with nature, but those same birds can also help you with pest control, too! Indeed, this piece is sure to become quite the talk of the town among the birds in your neighbourhood as it also includes brackets for bathing and drinking stations too, as well as the fillable feeding stations.
This means birds can come from far and wide to clean off and sip some water, while also tucking into a tasty lunch - it definitely won't be long before your garden becomes the go-to hotspot for birds of all kinds! However, it’s worth bearing in mind that this feeding station needs to be installed into the ground, so it isn’t suitable for patios or paved areas - not unless you have an unusually large plant pot or planter box on your balcony. Plus, while it can be installed in the centre of your lawn away from overhanging trees and pesky squirrels, this station itself isn’t squirrel-proof and is therefore prone to bird food thefts!
Nature’s Market Seed Feeder With Squirrel Guard
Pros: Keeps squirrels away, only admits small birds - no huge pigeons here!
Cons: Only offers one type of seed at a time, needs to be hung
Keeping squirrels out of the bird food can be a real challenge - especially when their personal supply of nourishing nuts runs low as these intelligent little rodents can figure out how to get into pretty much any bird feeder out there! Fight back and ensure there’s enough bird seed for wild birds with this Nature’s Market Seed Feeder. With a sturdy grill around the seed feeder, squirrels aren’t going to be able to access the bird seed inside, but the openings are still large enough for your small, local birds to be able to eat their fill.
For even more squirrel-proofing, you can hang this nifty bird feeder away from trees and fences using a freestanding bird table, bird feeder hanger, or garden feature, so they can’t make a wild jump for it. Greasing the pole of a hanging feeder hook is another good way to ensure they can’t climb up to the treats as well. They’re greedy creatures and will seize any and all opportunities to get a quick snack! One downside is that the installation method requires either a nearby tree or a separate feeder hanger, so it’s worth taking this into consideration before committing to your clever purchase.
A lovely little bath
Having a place to bathe is really important for birds. Regardless of whether the weather is cold or not, birds need access to clean water to help remove dirt from their feathers, allowing them to preen and clean themselves properly. When preening, birds carefully rearrange their feathers and spread oil from the preen gland, so they can remain waterproof and can also trap an insulating layer of air underneath to keep themselves warm. It might sound a little counterintuitive, but by softening dirt on their feathers with water, they can clean themselves more effectively.
Kingfisher Traditional Bronze-Effect Bird Bath
Pros: Perfect for offering birds of all sizes a place to rest, easy to clean, lightweight
Cons: May blow away - needs weighing down in high wind, bronze-effect may not be to everyone’s taste
Combining a traditional bird bath design with an affordable price, this eye-catching bronze-effect garden feature can be filled with water and used as a bird bath or laden with food and used as a feeder instead. The perfect tool for attracting a wide variety of beautiful birds to recuperate in your garden, it provides a comfortable spot away from predators for birds to perch, bathe, and rest their wings. Regardless of whether you have a generously-sized garden, paved patio area, or compact balcony, this 50cm-wide bird bath bowl can be introduced to all of these outdoor environments with ease.
It’s also made from tough and lightweight plastic to ensure it’s remarkably resistant to wet weather - perfect for the UK. This also means it can be effortlessly transported from place to place and easily re-positioned should you ever need to move it, unlike hefty metal bird baths that can weigh a ton! Plus, the lightweight design means it can be easily cleaned and emptied when refreshing the water. However, this also means that it can struggle to remain standing in windy weather, so it’s important to weigh it down or put it into outdoor storage if you’re worried about it blowing away!
Bronze-Effect Solar-Powered Bird Hotel
Pros: Solar-powered battery saves energy, multiple levels for different birds, features a light
Cons: Harder to clean, relatively narrow base needs to be placed on a stable patio or paving stone
To treat the wild birds in your garden to a relaxing rest spot, you need look no further than this impressive (and energy-saving!) bird hotel. Not just your everyday bird bath, this bird hotel boasts all kinds of features, such as a water fountain to bathe in, a light to illuminate your garden at night, and even a built-in food dish or planter. The best part is that this bird hotel is solar-powered so it doesn’t need to be plugged into a mains power supply and can stand freely by itself in your garden. This bronze-effect bird bath is even made from sturdy, lightweight, and UV-resistant plastic which makes it resistant to all kinds of weather conditions. Not to mention, it can also be easily moved and repositioned as you please.
Another benefit to this bird bath is that, even during winter, the constantly moving water won’t freeze, offering a suitable place for birds to bathe all year round. The solar-powered battery gives the birds a pleasant shower to bathe under without impacting your electricity bill, while the multiple levels allow a variety of different birds to use this garden feature at the same time. Best of all, it makes a lovely addition to the garden as kids will love watching the birds enjoy the water, and it even boasts a decorative solar-powered light! However, you’ll need a stable patio or level paving stone as the narrow base requires more stability than a grass lawn can typically offer.
Somewhere to hide
Offering the dickie birds somewhere to shelter is a great way to keep them around. Whether you’re offering cover with shrubs and bushes or a roofed bird table, birds will automatically be drawn to places with cover and will flock to it if they spot danger. So, offer them plenty of places to hide, but keep the feeders out in the open so they don’t feel like they can be snuck up on to create the most feather-friendly outdoor spaces.
Nature’s Market Traditional Wooden Bird Table
Pros: Comes with a practical roof, freestanding base is perfect for patios
Cons: Requires self-assembly, may leave dents in lawns, less attractive to birds than a hanging feeder
The perfect way to invite wild birds, squirrels, and other common wildlife into your outdoor spaces, this wooden bird table provides an ideal feeding platform for nature to thrive off. Boasting natural wood and an adorable green sheltered roof to provide a haven for any worn-out wildlife, this traditional style bird table makes a wonderful addition to any garden. The roof is a desirable addition as not only does it help wild birds to feel secure and keep bird food dry from the rain, but it can also prevent large birds like pigeons from landing on your bird table, too.
No matter how small your outdoor space might be, the width of this freestanding bird house table measures approximately 34cm, so it can easily fit into particularly tight gardens and patios. Completely friendly for wild birds, this Nature's Market bird table is a must-have addition to any avid birdwatcher's garden and is sure to broaden the array of birds that you can set your sights on!
Alternatively, it also makes a fantastic feature to liven up tired gardens and allows you to give a little something back to the environment. However, some minor downsides include the fact that it arrives flat-packed, so it will require a degree of self-assembly which isn’t ideal if you’re a DIY-dodger. Plus, the flat platform design can be off-putting to some species of birds that prefer hanging feeders instead.
Simply Direct Pressure Treated Wooden Wild Bird House
Pros: Perfect spring nesting place for lots of birds, attaches to a tree, fence post, or any other vertical post, easy-to-install, pressure treated wood withstands bad weather
Cons: Wooden construction will eventually wear down, needs to be hung in the right place
By offering the local bird population a place to nest, you’re encouraging them to keep the wild bird numbers up and thriving! By putting up nest boxes, such as this Simply Direct wooden nesting box, which replicates a bird's natural nesting preferences, you can encourage them to breed near your home - ensuring your garden continues to be a home for wild birds for years. This pressure treated nesting box needs to be hung on a tree, fence post, or other vertical structure, but once it’s set up, you’re ready to welcome the birdies in - you’ll be watching the babies fledge in no time!
As the wood on this wild bird house has been pressure treated, it’s able to easily withstand all kinds of inclement weather for usage all year round. However, this doesn’t mean it’ll last forever as wood is still susceptible to rotting and will eventually wear down due to the elements. It’s also worth mentioning that wild bird houses need to be hung in the right spot for birds to consider them safe and usable. This may take a little research and will vary depending on the type of bird species in your garden, but it’ll be well worth the effort once you see them using it for the very first time!
Sit back and watch them flock in!
With our handy guide at your fingertips, you’ll be able to attract more birds to your garden in no time. However, do bear in mind that if your local area has a lot of outdoor cats, you might find that the birds are less confident when it comes to exploring new places, so don’t be worried if it takes them a little longer to pluck up the courage to visit your feeders. Keep up with your routine of refilling feeders and topping up bird baths and you’ll soon spot an increase of wild birds in your own backyard!
If you’re trying to become a more serious bird-watcher, then why not invest in a pair of binoculars for brilliant bird-spotting from a greater distance? You can even check out our helpful guides on picking the best binoculars for birdwatching and choosing the best beginner DSLR cameras if you need some advice or inspiration. Once you’ve picked up the perfect pair, all that’s left to do is sit back, relax, and listen to beautiful birdsong fill the air!
The information in this buyer’s guide is correct at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.