xmlns:b='http://www.google.com/2005/gml/b' xmlns:data='http://www.google.com/2005/gml/data' xmlns:expr='http://www.google.com/2005/gml/expr' Attracting, and Keeping, Garden Birds | The Parent Game

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Attracting, and Keeping, Garden Birds

As we don't have any pets, we have always made a bit of an effort with our garden wildlife. We have a little pond, which gets a good supply of frogs. Including, of course, Crisp Packet Frog, who was discovered living in a crisp packet when we cleared some dense shrubbery.


Frog in Crisp Packet
It's a frog!

The Husband was not thrilled, as he was, understandably, expecting said crisp packet to be empty and got quite a shock when he discovered a rather large resident! Crisp Packet and his missus went on to have lots of babies and they were extremely cute, keeping Luke amused for hours! 


A baby frog

As well as frogs, we also have some success with our bird box. You may remember, I wrote about a great recipe for birdcake, which is a cheap and easy way to provide a good food supply to attract birds. I am pleased to report that we still get Coaltits returning each year, with the last babies flying the nest this morning. No photos, unfortunately, this time, as it all happened very quickly. I actually think there was a very small number. I only saw one, but I'm unsure if he was the only one, or we just happened to catch the last one leaving. I wouldn't be surprised if it was a small brood this year, though, since the box had it's fair share of problems over the previous few months. 

Bird Feeding Young in Box
This photo was taken mid-March, which shows it can take around three months for the young to fly the nest






Here are my top tips to avoid some of the potential pitfalls associated with nesting birds, to help keep your residents safe. I think keeping trying to keep the area safe and making the birds feel secure is what keeps them coming back each year.

1. Secure your box really well when you first put it up. This may sound obvious, but the less you intefere with the box, the more likely you are to get visitors to it, so you don't want to have to go back to it. The box will encounter plenty of bad weather, along with potential interest from large birds, such as crows and magpies, as well as cats, all of which could cause it to fall down if it isn't secured well in the first place. 

2. If you can, position your box so that it feels enclosed. So, slightly behind something, or under an overhang of wall. People often tell me that they have had a nesting box for years and never had any interest, and I am convinced the location is key. You will see ours is tucked slightly behind the shed. I think this makes the birds feel a bit hidden when they are initially building the nest, as in the above photograph. 

3. If you have attracted some nesters be very careful what you prune! I made a huge error of judgement this year, by over-pruning the apple tree that is situated just in front of the box. I hadn't realised how much protection it gives the birds from predators and, without it, larger birds became a real problem, particularly magpies and crows. I spent a lot of evenings chasing them off! 

4. Invest in a cat scarer. Cats will always show an interest in birds but, especially if you have children, the last thing you want is the local moggy feasting on your fledglings. We have a small, inexpensive, cat scarer that emits a high pitched noise that cats don't like. It saves a lot of effort chasing off errant kitties and is worth it for the peace of mind it affords. It won't harm the cat, they just won't come near it. Added bonus is a downturn in the amount of cat 'gifts' you will find in your lawn. 

5. Provide a variety of appropriate food and don't forget fresh water. I have said 'appropriate' because another mistake I made was throwing out large pieces of bread and other foodstuffs directly onto the lawn. All this achieved was to attract those bloomin magpies that cause all the trouble! As much as I appreciate they need food too, if you have a small garden, like me, it's really best not to give them any encouragement, as they have no idea of etiquette when it comes to what they will eat. They may think you've provided the baby birds for them to eat in the same way you have the bread! Fat balls and bags of peanuts hanging from tree branches work well, because bigger birds can't get hold of them so easily!

I hope these ideas help you find some new tenants as it's a great way to introduce children to animals and nature, without breaking the bank or making a lifelong commitment! 

Baby Bird in Tree






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19 comments

  1. I love the birds in my garden. Today I lugged home a 12.75kg bag of bird seed for them.

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  2. I wish I had a garden. We get a lot of birds outside our flat and the kids love watching them. Love the little frogs so cute

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  3. I've been meaning to put up some bird boxes. Our cats are past the hunting stage, but I have to say that they have never taken much notice of the cat scarers our neighbour put up in their garden. In fact, they have been known to rub up against it.

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  4. We have a cat, so birds don't visit our garden too often! They know to stay away -_- We had a feeder when our cat wasn't able to go outside as a kitten, and loved seeing the different birds going to it.

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  5. Great post - we love encouraging wildlife, especially birds. We have a family of bluest who next here every year.

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  6. I don't have a garden but do plant in pots bee friendly flowers x

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  7. we have just been renovating our garden but im hoping the birds stay we have a robin and blue tit that visits regular

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  8. Great tips for attracting our feathered friends.

    Crisp packet frog is ace too!

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  9. You have some wonderful nature in your garden. Thanks for sharing your tips.

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  10. so many things i would never have considered, thank you for the tips, i'm hoping to do something like this with my niece when i next visit the uk

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  11. We put up a load of bird feeders and the squirrels actually ate through them!

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  12. We have a box, but nobody seems to like it :( They do love the feeders though!

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  13. Great tips - we have a blue jay who regularly comes to the garden who is beautiful. We don't have much luck with the bird box though :(

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  14. What a lovely post and great tips too. I love the Crisp Packet tale, frogs in ponds are brilliant. Must be amazing to have so much wildlife in the garden. We should so get a bird box :)

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  15. What fab tips - I think our kids would like these kind of "pets" in our garden! However, what we do actually have is a big fox, who is there most days.....

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  16. I love birds in my garden despite having cats !

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  17. Ah we have had Robin's this year! We've had two lots of babies too - love it!

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  18. Lovely post - I have two cats who are ninja killers so unfortunately I don't want to encourage birds - or frogs :( Kaz x

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  19. I have recently moved in to a flat with a communal garden but am hoping to put some of these ideas into practice in a quiet corner somewhere in it.

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