Looking after garden birds
Birds are often a mixed blessing in the garden: they'll swipe your berries, but while they're at it they'll also strip aphids from your roses, eat small slugs and hoover up caterpillars too. On the whole, they do far more good than harm: and besides, they're lovely to watch as they flit around your plants, bringing your garden to life with song and colour.
In our Donaghadee, Bushmills, Ballymena and Ballyclare garden centre you'll find all you need to encourage a thriving population of garden birds to visit, from sparrows to woodpeckers. Follow our top five tips to make your garden into a haven for your feathery friends.
- Install a pond: birds appreciate a water feature more than anything. They'll go down to the pond to take a drink and have a little bath, and have a snack on the insects it attracts, too! We have both rigid preformed liners or butyl liner to make your own shape in our garden centre.
Put up bird feeders: a range of different feeders on a stand, available in our garden centre, lets you provide everything from peanuts, in wider wire mesh feeders, to seed, dispensed through a plastic tube. A table catches waste and holds raisins, chopped apples and grated cheese. Don't forget to fit a squirrel guard to keep the long-tailed thieves away!
- Provide the right food: in winter, garden birds need more fat to help them keep on weight in the cold – you'll find fat balls and cakes in our garden centre. But in summer, it's better to eed a good-quality seed mix. Good year-round feeds include black sunflower seeds, nyger, peanuts and mealworms.
Grow berrying shrubs: this is the most natural food for birds and one that will draw them in in their hundreds. Red-berrying shrubs like cotoneaster, pyracantha and spindle berry are most popular, followed by the orange berries of berberis and rowans: they seem to like white berries least.
- Leave seedheads on: don't be too quick to tidy up once annuals and perennials have died back in autumn, as birds really appreciate the contents of their dried seedheads. Sunflowers, globe thistles, teasels, mullein and evening primrose are all much appreciated.