Searching for top 10 tips for attracting birds to your garden? Birds, bees, frogs, toads, lizards, chameleons, hedgehogs, and if you are lucky, even a shy bushbaby or genet – all these fascinating creatures could make their home in your garden.
To encourage them, provide a habitat that offers what they need for nesting, resting, feeding, and breeding.
Here are some tips for attracting birds to your garden!
- Provide at least one tall tree for nesting. If possible, do not remove dead branches as they provide nest sites for barbets, owls, and hoopoes. Rotting wood is home to many grubs which are food for tits and wood-hoopoes.
- Nest boxes, which you can make yourself or buy from a nursery, should be put up in autumn to allow birds to become familiar with them over winter. Hopefully with the arrival of spring, they will be ready to move in and breed.
- Dense shrubberies, planted far from the activity of the home, offer safe nesting sites for small mammals, such as mongooses, and shy birds such as thrushes, shrikes and coucals. In this area put out finely chopped meat (to attract lizards and frogs) and fruit (for the birds) on the ground.
- Don’t put all your grass clippings and leaves on the compost heap – sprinkle them between plants to create a mulch. This provides a haven for many insects, which in turn are food for hedgehogs, lizards, frogs and birds. Mulch reduces weed growth as it blocks out the light that weeds need to grow. It also prevents soil from drying out.
- Earthworms will fetch the mulch from the surface and carry it down into the soil – no need to dig at all! In fact, it is best not to turn the soil as this disturbs the habitat for the many creepy crawlies that live there. Leave tilling the soil to the earthworms.
- Birds are attracted to water for drinking and bathing. Provide water in both an open area and a densely vegetated section. Some birds, such as herons and hadedahs, like to be in the open so that they can see any possible predators, and others prefer to be hidden away in thick bushes. Your bird bath should have gently sloping sides as birds do not like to go into water of unknown depth. Alternatively, place rocks in a deep bath to provide shallow areas.
- Plants which bear berries, fruit, seeds and nectar, provide food for birds. In addition, you can put fruit, seed and bone meal on a feeding tray.
- Never destroy a termite nest as when the termites erupt, they attract a wonderful variety of animals, particularly birds, which feed on them.
- Leave a patch of long, wild grass to seed. This will provide both food and habitat for many birds.
- Both exotic and indigenous plants will attract wildlife to your garden, but the latter will be more successful as they have evolved with the indigenous animals and are thus best suited to meet their needs. In addition, many people prefer to grow plants that belong to a particular area. `Wildlife gardening’ will be most successful if you grow plants that are indigenous to your local region. For example, proteas are indigenous to South Africa, but are not suited to the Natal coast. Consult your local nursery or botanical garden for advice. Indigenous acacia trees provide popular nesting sites. In addition, their flowers attract insects and their gum and seeds are eaten by many animals. Karee species are a good food supply for birds, as well as providing very welcome shade. Pink sage (Orthosiphon labiatus) and Cape leadwort (Plumbago auriculata) have attractive flowers and provide dense shrubbery for the undisturbed part of the garden. Cape honeysuckle (Tecomaria capensis) offers nectar for sunbirds, and occurs in a variety of different flower colours. The cream flowers of the butterfly bush (Buddleja species), as its name suggest, attract butterflies in late winter and early spring.