If you’ve always wanted to design a garden to attract birds, it can be done very cheaply, and in addition to the entertainment provided by your feathered guests you’ll have the satisfaction of doing your bit to help displaced wildlife. There are numerous ways to create a welcoming environment for birds, and special accommodations you can make to keep your guests happy and healthy.
Ornithological conservation is a very popular subject in the UK, and the best advice on how to help birds comes from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. RPSB’s online guidebook to bird preservation lays out clear, easy-to-follow basic instructions for setting up a habitat in your garden, providing food and water, and even building special boxes in which your birds can nest.
The one beginner’s essential is a way to feed your birds.
How to feed birds
You’ll need a dispenser from which the birds can eat, and the type of dispenser you choose is related to the food it contains and the species you’re trying to attract. You can get an idea of likely options by looking at products supplied by a vendor, but you’ll notice how simple the feeders are to construct.
The guidelines for what’s required in a dispenser are few: it needs to hold whatever food you’re providing (which can range from seeds to suet), the food must be accessible to birds, and it helps if the food is protected from other wildlife like squirrels that share the same tastes in food.
You should look for feeders of straightforward design and sturdy construction, and remember you’ll periodically need to clean them to remove old food residue. The most common types of feeder are:
The bird table. This feeder consists of a pole bearing a small platform where you’ll put the food. It typically has one support at either side of the platform to hold up a small roof, providing some protection from weather.
Larger tables help prevent quarrels over food, and if you lay out special foods to attract different species you can keep the groups separated from each other. Most bird tables have raised edges to make sure food doesn’t slide off the table, with gaps through which rainwater can sluice away, and if you’re building your own (which is recommended, as it’s easy to do and costs very little) you can choose a water-resistant wood for longevity. If building your own table is not an option you may benefit from the help of payday loans who could provide the additional funds needed to purchase a ready made table.
You’ll want to situate the platform at a good height above ground level, and if you like you can insert hooks for suspending pieces of suet, seed balls, or even smaller feeders if your bird table can hold the extra weight.
With regard to a roof, some species will enjoy its protection so much they’ll stay overnight, but its presence may hinder larger birds from landing. You can set out any type of food on your bird table, but other feeders have special designs in order to dispense particular types of food.
The seed feeder. This feeder consists of a lucite tube with small openings through which the birds can eat, plus perches at the openings on which diners can balance while eating. The openings should be structured so seed is accessible but does not flow out of the feeder too quickly, and optimum size will vary with the size of the seeds you plan to use.
Make sure the design doesn’t encourage old seeds to collect and decay, as that can present a health hazard.
The nut feeder. The nut feeder requires mesh of different sizes to accommodate nuts of varying diameters without spilling the contents. A small mesh can cause damage to beaks, and an overly large mesh lets nuts escape, so if you want to make a universal nut feeder the recommended mesh size is one-quarter inch.
If you create a descending series of mesh containers joined together, you can use the correct sizes of mesh in order to feed nuts of all sizes without chopping or breaking them, and this feeder style is one of the easiest to build. It needs a hanging hook, a set of wire frames for stretching the mesh into nut containers, and another set of attachable frames that function as perches.
Molded feeders, which are edible. Suet and seed are the two most commonly recommended foodstuffs for garden birds, and if you melt the suet, mix in the seed, and set a loop of twine in the feeder before it sets you will have an economical feeder that will vanish as it’s consumed, requiring no maintenance at all.
The classic children’s variant on the molded feeder involves filling the interstices of a pine cone with peanut butter and then rolling the sticky result in birdseed, which will give you a simple biodegradable feeder for a few pence and five minutes’ work.