Great tit - S Tonkin gardening for wild birds

Great tit on bird feeder in UK a garden. Image credit: S Tonkin

It’s amazing how easy it is to attract wild birds to your garden, however small and urban it is – wild birds will visit your garden if there’s plenty of food available!

The variety of species will depend upon the size of the garden, how bird-friendly it is and its proximity to countryside or well-wooded parks.

Try to ensure that your garden is wild bird friendly all year round and that you accommodate for the changing needs of both residents and seasonal visitors. Plant bushes with berries on for the autumn and if this gets stripped quickly offer fat balls or soft apples.

To ensure your garden doesn’t get stripped of food straight away, why not plant a variety of bushes that attract insects and aphids at different times of the year to keep a steady flow of food. Some of the top five bushes to have in your garden to attract wild birds are:

  • Ivy – birds such as blackbirds and thrushes eat the berries.
  • Holly – birds like thrushes, goldcrest, finches nest in the spiky shrub, and blackbirds, fieldfare, and many others eat the berries in the winter.
  • Hawthorn – good for nesting and blackkbirds, thrushes, yellowhammers, greenfinches, starlings, amoung many others, eat the red berries or ‘haws’ in the autumn.
  • Honeysuckle – warblers, bullfinches and thrushes eat the berries.
  • Berberis – a prickly shrub which is good for nesting and provides red berries.
Spotted Flycatcher - S Tonkin - Gardening for wild birds

Spotted Flycatcher. Image credit: S Tonkin

If you would like to find out more about suitable shrubs for wild bird why not visit the Royal Horticultural Society website.

Another easy thing to remember, is that dense cover will encourage nesting and nesting boxes are great for tits or other hole-nesters. During the summer, having insects in your garden will encourage tits and sparrows, but if you find you have periods where you do not have many wild birds, have a look at our list below to see if you can entice them back.

  • Is there water for the birds to drink and bath in?
  • Do you have enough food available?
  • Is there enough coverage for them to nest?
  • Do you have a nesting box?

Handy tip – why not fill an old plant pot full off moss or sheep wool – the birds will love that to line their nests or boxes.

If you fancy having a go at building your own nest box, visit the British Trust of Ornithology to find out how to make your own nest box alternatively visit The RSPB to identify the birds that are visiting your gardens.

For advice on feeding wild birds in your garden have a look at our ‘Feeding garden birds’ page.