Two young boys bird watching through house window. Black and white Photo

At a time when good news nature stories seem few and far between; a small segment in this month’s British Birds magazine offers some most welcome relief! 

The short piece shares the findings in the British Trust for Ornithology’s Garden Bird Feeding Survey (GBFS). It describes how our feathered garden visitors have grown from just two main birds (house sparrow and starling) in the seventies to around thirty different species. The article also notes that feeding birds as a hobby has grown into an estimated £200 – £300 million industry. Good news indeed. 


Despite this, I do meet a number of people who struggle to attract birds into their garden. In fact, not so long ago I myself was also frustrated and disillusioned bird gardener! So, if you’re someone who wants more than pigeons on your peanuts, gather round and I’ll share my own experience with you…

From Garden Zero to Garden Hero!

In the first year we tried to attract some feathered friends into our three by five metre terraced yard, we had a grand total of ZERO birds visit. Yes, playing Angry Birds on the phone seemed the closest we’d ever get to avian interaction in our home. Today, however, we enjoy a diverse range of garden birds. In this year’s Big Garden Birdwatch we counted 13 different species in an hour! Here’s some of the improvements and mistakes I made… 


The first improvement I made was one of expectation! My expectation was to enjoy watching birds feed on our feeders from the comfort of our sofa. So I planted the feeder bang in the middle of our two metre flower bed so it could be viewed from any seat in the living room. This, was probably my biggest mistake. 


Today the feeder sits on the end of the flower bed, out of sight from the sofa but closer to some to evergreens and several small trees. Now visitors hit the feeder from all directions. And if I want to enjoy watching them through the window, I simply get up from the sofa and watch from a chair, or even from the garden bench with a hot brew in the winter and a cold brew in the summer. 


While we enjoy the birds all year round, when embarking on getting birds feeding in your garden, I think winter is best. Wait for any local berries to disappear and then fill your feeders. With food being more scarce, you’re more likely to get garden visitors and once they’ve made that connection with food and your garden, with luck, you’ll be able to enjoy them three hundred and sixty five days of the year!


Choice of feeders and food has never been more diverse and neither has the price range! My personal favourites are fat balls or blocks with a mix of seeds and invertebrates. Mealworms on a feeder tray and one of the best generalist foods I find are sunflower hearts, which I also use to feed the ducks at our local ponds and rivers. 

Don’t forget

Bird baths are also a great way to bring wildlife into the garden. If you can offer a safe environment for the birds to have a drink and a scrub you won’t be disappointed! 

Hopefully if you’re struggling one or two of these suggestions might help get you over the line, the key thing is to never give up, because when you see that first bird land on your feeder, it’s breathtaking.

Big Birdwatch Gallery...

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