As the weather becomes warmer in spring, there is nothing lovelier than spending more time in your garden. An essential element of a happy garden is plenty of chirping garden birds, but to get them there is often easier said than done.
Seedeaters are easy to attract to your garden
One of the easiest types of birds to attract to your garden are seedeaters. They are entertaining little birds that are widely spread throughout South Africa. It also won’t cost you an arm and a leg to feed these little birds, since seeds are relatively affordable in comparison to other types of bird food.
Some of the most common seed-eating visitors you can hope to attract are starlings, sparrows, turtle doves, wag tails, rock pigeons, pin tailed whydah, cape weavers, guinea fowls, and finches like waxbills and scaly feathered finches.
7 Top Tips for a Garden full of birds
Whether this is your first attempt, or a years-long obsession, these are foolproof ways to attract more seedeaters to your garden:
Add a water feature
Cool fresh water will give birds a place to rehydrate as well to cool off on warm days. This is especially important for seedeaters, since their diet consists mostly of dry foods such as seeds.
Birds also like the sound of water, so placing a burbling fountain close to the feeding station is a useful trick to make the birds in your neighbourhood aware of your offering.
Offer a variety of seeds
A common mistake is to only put out a very basic mix of seeds. Variety is king if you would like to attract more seedeaters to your garden.
- Seeds still in their husk will be most attractive to birds with stronger beaks, such as finches, sparrows and waxbills. These birds can easily break open seeds to get to the nutritious, tasty kernel.
- Birds such as robins seek out de-husked seeds. Consider putting out sunflower hearts to attract these feathered friends.
- For birds, peanuts are a treat. If you would like to add it to your seed offering, remember to put it out in a meshed feeder to prevent the birds from trying to swallow the peanuts whole.
- Nearly all garden birds enjoy fresh fruits, such as apples and oranges. Add it to your offering to attract a wider variety of birds.
- Suet is a high energy feeding supplement that appeals to most birds, especially during winter and early spring, when nature has not completely recovered from the cold and food might still be scarce. You can find suet at your local pet store, but you can just as easily make it using common household ingredients and a good quality seed mix. Try a simple bird suet recipe that will have birds in your neighbourhood coming back for more.
Ground scattering vs. Feeders
Many garden birds are drawn to feeders suspended from trees or other structures. When hanging the feeder, make sure that it’s safe for the birds: there should be no hiding places for cats or similar predators, and it should be close to a safe hiding spot like a tree in case something startles them.
There is a wide variety of feeders available on the market. Whichever type of feeder you choose, you need to clean it on a regular basis to prevent seeds from becoming mouldy and poisoning your feathered friends.
Keep in mind that not all birds prefer feeders. To ensure that you make your garden enticing for all types of birds, consider an area close to the feeder where you can scatter seeds too, since some birds prefer to feed on the ground. Additionally, when seeds drop down from the feeders, do not clean it up, since the fallen seeds will attract ground feeders.
The same goes for fallen husks that will eventually become mulch, providing a habitat to earthworms and other nutritious insects. By allowing a little eco-system like this to develop, will in turn attract insect-eating birds.
Buy quality seeds
One of the most effective ways to attract birds to your garden, is to buy quality seeds. There should be minimal dust and no mould on the product.
A quality seed mix will contain a wide variety of nutritional seeds and ingredients that birds love.
Be patient, be consistent
Birds are chatterboxes, and they will definitely spread the word about your new delicious feeding spot. Be patient and give them time to get the word out; and don’t disappoint your new patrons when they finally arrive.
Give yourself a pat on the back
Wild bird numbers are in decline worldwide due to, among other things, agricultural programmes, afforestation, mining and urban growth that is slowly destroying their natural habitats.
Smaller habitats mean less room for safe shelter and food, but your garden can become a safe haven to the birds in your area. Giving these birds a helping hand in their never-ending hunt for food, not only during winter but throughout the year, can help support local populations of wild birds.
More Backyard Birder Dos & Don’ts
- If you have cats, keep them away from the area you are trying to set up your bird feeding spot
- When expanding your garden, keep the birds in mind. Choosing specific types of plants will ensure that you have not only seedeaters flocking to your garden, but other types of birds too. Indigenous plants known to attract birds include, amongst others:
- Wild Fig Trees,
- Weeping Boer Bean,
- Coral Trees,
- White Stinkwood,
- Tree Fuchsia,
- Shrubs such as Lion’s Tail or Wild Dagga
- When possible, don’t remove dead trees in your yard since many have hollowed out sections that can make a natural nesting spot or place to escape the elements.
- Clean bird feeders and water fountains on a regular basis. Moulded food is very dangerous to birds, and a dirty bird bath will do you no favours in attracting birds to your garden.
- Avoid putting a feeder up too close to your house; it increases the risk of birds flying into windows and injuring themselves.
- Be aware that garden insecticides may eliminate insect food sources and pose a health risk to birds.