Robin in a garden

How to attract birds to your garden

Discover how to create a garden that will be attractive to birds, from choosing the right plants to putting out food.

A decline in natural habitats means that our gardens are more important than ever for birds.

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To attract birds, your garden needs to be attractive to them all year round. A bird-friendly garden not only offers food but water, shelter, nesting sites and protection from predators.

Discover the top 10 plants for birds.

If you’ve put out food but birds aren’t visiting your garden, work out how you can make it more attractive – are there places for birds to shelter or take cover from predators, for example? And be patient – it can take time for birds to routinely visit your garden.

Here are some ways to attract birds to your garden.

A bird-friendly garden not only offers food but water, shelter, nesting sites and protection from predators.

Provide natural food sources

Feeding birds with supplementary foods is very useful but it’s important to provide natural food, too. Berries and seeds are especially important. Lawns are a feeding ground for many birds, including robins, blackbirds and song thrushes. Find out how to grow your own bird food.

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Provide shelter

Birds need shelter from the cold, especially on cold, winter nights. Dense, evergreen conifers, trees and shrubs are especially good, as is mature ivy. Some birds, including tits and wrens, will shelter in empty nest boxes, snuggling together for warmth.

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Provide water

Birds need a supply of water at all times, to drink and to bathe in. Bathing is especially important in winter – it makes feathers easier to preen, keeping them waterproof and insulating. Shelter it from predators and keep it clean and fresh. Ensure it doesn’t freeze over in winter. Find out how to make a bird bath.

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Provide supplementary food

Feeding birds in winter is essential – it helps them conserve energy and get through cold nights. But food shortages can happen at any time, so keep feeders topped up all year round – birds will rely on them. Put up a mix of foods to attract a range of species. Discover which foods suit different birds.

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Provide nesting sites

The type of nest box and its location will depend on the bird it’s for – watch our video on the different types of bird box. Put boxes in a sheltered spot, away from predators. If you can, provide natural nest sites, too, such as a dense native hedge – which will also provide food. Don’t prune hedges between March to July if birds are nesting.

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Protect from cats and other predators

Birds won’t visit if they don’t feel safe. They like to be able to check for predators like cats and sparrowhawks, and need somewhere to retreat to quickly. Put feeders next to some cover, such as a tree, hedge or climber-covered fence. A prickly shrub beneath a bird feeder can help to deter cats.

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Practise good hygiene

Be sure to clean bird feeders, tables and baths regularly, to avoid a build up of bacteria and fungal spores that could kill visiting birds. Read our advice on cleaning bird feeders.

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