We all love to see native birds swoop into the garden, perch on trees, nibble on feed or berries and fly away with their tummy full.Autumn and winter can be harsh months for foragers and it’s nice to incorporate shrubs and trees into your garden which will provide a bounty of berries and nourishing feed.
Plants trees and shrubs that feed the birds
Skimmia are great and produce delicious berries. This evergreen shrub provides a lovely, multi-sensory display. Skimmia shrubs dislike lime, so it is important to test your soil before investing.
Holly grows extremely well and produces a veritable feast of berries. While the berries are often ripe in Autumn, birds such as thrushes and blackbirds won’t start to eat them until the winter months.
At CountryLife, we get lots of demand for ornamental crab apples. They feature a fabulous spring blossom and decorative autumn fruits in a variety of colours, sizes and shapes. These apples are very sour to the human taste but birds devour them. Cotoneaster and Gaultheria are options and none of them grow very big so they’re perfect for smaller or container gardens.
Choosing the right feeder
Many modern gardeners will also add feeding stations to help provide an additional source of food during winter. I always recommend placing feeders where you can watch the birds come and go. The most popular feeders are made of mesh or wire which makes them perfect for storing peanuts, large seeds or fat balls.
You can also get plastic feeders that have small grooves at the bottom which are perfect for fine seed such as nyjer seed which Finches love. You can also get plastic feeders with two small openings at the bottom which are made for small birds to use.
If squirrels are an issue in your garden you can also get ‘squirrel proof’ feeders which are designed so that small birds can get the food from them but squirrels can’t raid the supply of food. These types of feeders also prevent larger birds such as crows or magpies getting the food.
I find it is a good idea to have a mixture of different feeders around the garden, that way you will cater for different types of birds.
Wild bird seed and water
There are many different feeds available on the market when looking to feed your garden birds. The most popular feeds include peanuts and of course, quality feed such as Irish bird seed.
If you are feeding birds in the garden it is a good idea to supply a regular source of water for them too. This is especially important if it gets cold and normal water supplies, such as a pond freeze over. Placing a shallow container of water on a table or flat surface is all you need to do in order to supply water for your garden birds.