The feeding station

The layout of the garden and feeding station directly affects the number of birds in your garden

We recommend using bird tables and bird feeders in order to attract as many different species to your garden all year round.

The reason for this is that there is a big difference in the way the different species enjoy eating their food.

Below you can read the advice of our vet as he explains how to feed the birds and organise your garden feeding station.

The agile tits like to hang downwards from a fat ball.

Sparrows look for a flat surface on which to sit while other species such as the chaffinch almost exclusively search for food on the ground.

Common to all the birds is that they prefer to eat in a place that commands a clear view of their surroundings and offers a vantage point from which they can quickly spot danger from potential enemies such as birds of prey, cats or humans. They must be able to quickly fly to safety so it is a good idea to place the feeding station close to bushes, hedges and trees.

The birds must have unhindered access to water to meet both their drinking and bathing needs. Water in the garden can increase the garden bird population by as much as 50%.

Birds love gardens with different kinds of trees and bushes that offer berries and fruit at different heights. They also love evergreen trees and bushes that provide shelter and a safe place in which to build their nests. And they appreciate flowerbeds with different kinds of flowers and ground cover that attract the insects they eat. Avoid using pesticides that kill the insects eaten by the birds. The birds help us to control the insects that attack our plants. For example, the great tit can eat as many 5,000 insects and vermin during the breeding season.

The birds do not like gardens that are too-well kept. They enjoy a corner or two with weeds, high  grass and piles of leaves, as this is a haven for the insects and small vermin that make up their preferred diet.

Hedges are an ideal place to build a nest so you should be careful when using hedge clippers and postpone pruning until the beginning of August by which time the last brood of chicks have left the nest.

Old hollow trees are also a favourite haunt of the birds. They serve both as food stores and living quarters. The trees are inhabited by numerous insects and small vermin favoured by the birds, while the many cavities, cracks and crevices in the trees provide a suitable home. Unfortunately there are fewer and fewer old hollow trees left, both in urban gardens and in the wild.

You can provide lodging for the birds by hanging up nesting boxes in the garden. During the breeding season they will function as nests and in the winter months they provide a safe habitat. It is important that the nesting boxes are cleaned following the breeding season so they are kept free of bacteria and viruses that can be passed on to other birds. Remember to wear gloves and to wash your hands thoroughly after you have finished.

When you buy nesting boxes be aware of the size of the box and the opening. The box must not be too small and remember that the opening determines which species of birds can use the box.