Bird feeding and nesting tips for your garden
During February the Ranger team is busy at Springhill preparing nesting sites as birds are already starting to pair up and scout out suitable homes for the new season. There are lots of simple things you do at home too to make your garden attractive to wild birds such as robins, blackbirds, gold crests and blue tits.
Here are our top tips to make your garden more bird friendly:
Birds are often hungry during the lean winter months, an easy way to attract them into your garden is by making sure there is plenty for them to eat. Hanging feeders filled with peanuts, bird seed and fat balls offer a tasty meal or snack, often providing an important source of energy during cold weather. Each bird has their favourite treat; the robin loves a meal worm whereas the blackbird will prefer a slice of apple. At Springhill we will be making natural bird feeders, which you can customise to make them especially tasty to your favourite garden visitor.
Planting trees and shrubs that provide a natural source of food is important. Fruit trees or native trees such as hawthorn or elder are a good choice for a small garden. At Springhill the ancient yew trees provide food for a large number of thrushes, which enjoy feasting on the berries. The dense evergreen foliage harbours overwintering insects and spiders which tiny goldcrests love. Cotoneaster and holly also provide a glut of bright red berries for blackbirds and thrushes, even redwing and waxwings have been seen dining on them.
Provide nest sites
It’s important to provide a sheltered spot for birds to nest. Our beautiful mature parkland trees provide a range of excellent nesting sites. Tree creepers nest behind the bark of gnarly tree trunks and jackdaws make use of holes in ancient branches. While the tall scots pines are home to a number of loud rooks. Large messy twig nests make this rookery easy to spot. Little holes in the garden walls make cosy homes for blue tits and great tits, while robins, wrens and blackbirds find hidden spots amongst the climbing roses, creeping hydrangeas and ivy that provide shelter and cover from predators. We’ve even been lucky enough to have spotted flycatchers using our walls and ivy to nest in.
You can put up a nest box to help the birds in your own garden, make sure its high enough to be out of reach of predators and facing away from prevailing winds. Most birds prefer a bit of cover, to help them feel secure and provide shade. We will have a variety of handmade nest boxes for sale at Springhill during Nest Fest, and we can help advise you on the best one for you and where to position it.
Water is also very important, and can mean the difference between life and death for some birds when the weather is at its harshest. They also need a bath to keep their feathers in good condition. We are lucky enough to have a pond at Springhill, which is not just great for birds but other wildlife too, such as frogs and newts. However, a bird bath kept thawed during frost weather is quite adequate.