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How to Put Up a Nest Box

How to Put Up a Nest Box

There’s no better way to attract birds to your garden than providing them a cosy home to nest in. But birds can be a little picky about the residence they choose. Many a nest box sits empty year after year. Brush up on exactly how to put up a nest box to maximise your chances of garden birds making it their home:

When to Put Up a Nest Box
Autumn is the best time to install your nest box. Many birds will scout out potential nesting locations throughout autumn and winter before settling in the following spring. With a nest box up and ready, birds can also use the space as shelter during bad weather.

Where to Put a Nest Box
Where you choose to put your nest box will depend upon the kinds of birds you wish to attract. House sparrows and starlings like to nest under the eaves. Robins and wrens like a nest box placed under two metres high and well hidden by foliage. Woodpecker boxes should be placed three to five metres up a tree trunk.

Wherever you put your nest box, make sure there are no obstructions to the flight path. You should also protect your nest box from weather extremes. Face it to the north or east to avoid strong sunlight and slant it down slightly so that heavy rain is less likely to make its way inside.

How To Protect Your Box from Predators
Predators are a common problem. Don’t use nest boxes with a built in perch as these can provide a handy ledge for unwanted guests. A bird feeder is another temptation that can attract predators. Put your feeder at a distance from the nesting box. This way, you can also help to prevent noisy eaters from disturbing nesting birds.

Maintaining a Nest Box
Cleaning your nest box is an annual job. Nests are the perfect habitat for fleas and other parasites, which can infest newly hatched birds next year. In the autumn, when you’re sure that the box is empty, take it down and wash it with boiling water. Only hang it back up once it’s completely dry. You may want to put a few wood shavings or a little hay into the box. This will help to entice hibernating mammals and roosting birds throughout the colder months.

An inhabited nest box will provide you with endless birdwatching opportunities. Put it up at the right time, put in the right place and see to its maintenance each year to create the perfect home for nesters.

Tips for attracting more birds to your feeders

Tips for attracting more birds to your feeders

We have put together a few tips on how you can get a large amount of birds to come into your garden and feed just by placing the bird feeders in the right place in your garden.

 

 

Placement of your bird feeder

 

Placement is key, you want to be able to see the birds while they are feeding, but it's also important that they feel safe while they have their meal. Birds are creatures of habit, so if they don’t feel safe, you’re likely to never see them again after their first visit. If you have a small garden, it is best to put the feeders fairly close to your windows. This allows you to observe the birds without scaring them away. If you have a larger garden with trees or shrubs this can be a good spot to hang a feeder as the foliage gives the birds cover from wind and predators.  However, don’t put the feeders too close as they are also home to squirrels that would love to munch on your bird seed and also cats can hide in the branches, waiting to pounce.  We suggest 2-5 metres away from the dense leafy areas. Experiment with a few feeders dotted around the garden to find the perfect place as each garden has its own habit so results may vary.

 

 

If you have a relatively open garden without much cover for the birds, you could try creating natural shelters yourself. All you’ll need are a few loosely stacked piles of sticks and branches around your bird feeder, and you can create a great resting place for a variety of birds.

 

 

Try to be patient

 

It will take a while for birds to start feeding in your garden. You may see a few flying around your garden and not landing for the first few weeks; this is them checking that the new feeder is safe. You may think that you have cracked it when you see the first birds land and enjoy a meal too. However, as we said above, birds are creatures of habit, if something doesn’t feel right about the place, they will likely not come back. If you have noticed the birds feeding once and then not returning, you might want to consider moving the feeders around and finding a spot with more cover; there maybe be predators that you can’t see lurking in the undergrowth.

 

 

 

 

 

Birds can be quite fussy as well, so if the bird seed is too wet or keeps getting blown away by the wind, the area may feel too exposed for them. Trying moving the feeders to a slightly more covered location, even a few feet closer to the fence could be just enough to make them happy.

 

 

 

 

 

Once you have attracted a few birds to your feeders more are likely to come. Just be patient and try to position your feeders in key places around your garden. It’s better to have more than one feeder as you’ll be able to see which ones are more popular and then set up others in the same manner for a bird feeding extravaganza!

 

 

 

 

 

How to look after your garden wildlife in January

How to look after your garden wildlife in January

The frost will be biting in January and, if you feed your birds, you will find your garden has many visitors.  This month continue feeding the birds high energy foods- simple things to try are smearing peanut butter on a branch or a pine cone, or popping out old apples from your fruit bowl - our blackbirds in particular love them!  Birds are nervous and creatures of habit so give them a week to settle in and place your apples / peanut butter treats in the same place each day so they can get familiar with your garden treats.

Break the ice on the bird baths in the morning and prevent your pond freezing over by placing a ball on the top - this will work during a light frost but in harsher weather you will need to break it with a spade / stick.

 

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Pumpkin Bird Feeder

Pumpkin Bird Feeder

One way to recycle the pumpkins after Halloween is to create a pumpkin bird feeder.  Super simple and fun - and amazing for the birds, especially now it is getting colder.

1. Open up the top of the pumpkin up nice and wide using a knife. 

2. Make 4 holes evenly spaced around the rim of the pumpkin

2. Cut one long piece of garden twine around 2 metres long and thread through the holes and around the side of the pumpkin - then bring the threads together in the centre and tie. Make a loop with the remaining string.

4. Fill the pumpkin with seed (I put some crumpled up news paper beneath the seed to half fill the pumpkin to reduce seed waste).

5. Hang on a tree & watch the birds come

It won't last long but is worth a go!

Video: Pumpkin Bird Feeder - watch Ben's video

Video: Pumpkin Bird Feeder - watch Ben's video

Ben has recorded a video to show you how to create a pumpkin bird feeder!

One way to recycle the pumpkins after Halloween is to create a pumpkin bird feeder.  Super simple and fun - and amazing for the birds, especially now it is getting colder.

1. Open up the top of the pumpkin up nice and wide using a knife. 

2. Make 4 holes evenly spaced around the rim of the pumpkin

2. Cut one long piece of garden twine around 2 metres long and thread through the holes  - then bring the threads together in the centre and tie. Make a loop with the remaining string.

4. Fill the pumpkin with seed (I put some crumpled up news paper beneath the seed to half fill the pumpkin to reduce seed waste).

5. Hang on a tree & watch the birds come

It won't last long but is worth a go!

Looking after your garden wildlife in October

Looking after your garden wildlife in October

Its Halloween this month so make sure your birds get a "treat"!  Give your feeders and water baths a good clean with a 5% disinfectant solution.  Using a stiff brush get into all the nooks and crannies to help remove any left over seed which can attract the bugs.  It is also a good idea to move feeders around so droppings don't start building up underneath.

 

I know I mentioned this last month, but keeping a pile of leaves, logs and twigs is critical for all sorts of wildlife who need a warm, safe sanctuary over the winter months.  Insects, hedgehogs, dormice will all love you for providing a haven for them!  A thriving insect population then feeds the birds so this is critical to a healthy, vibrant garden the following Spring.