Daily Mail

Enter the song contest

Turn your garden into a haven for birds and enjoy the rousing chorus


Nesting season is under way and, this month, the charity songbird survival is encouragin­g people to think about Britain’s muchloved songbirds when gardening ( songbird-survival.org.uk).

Over the past 50 years, the number of songbirds in the UK has plummeted and more than half are now threatened or in decline. But there are plenty of things we can do to turn our gardens into songbird sanctuarie­s.

if you have managed to resist the urge to tidy up your garden until now, congratula­tions.

seedheads and berries provide much-needed food for birds in winter. i leave the hips on my roses until the last minute. With diseases such as avian flu on the rise, bird feeders and tables need to be kept clean. A sustainabl­e solution is to grow plants that provide food for birds.


HAzels are great for their nuts, ivy and elders for their berries and teasels for their seedheads, while cornflower­s, lavender and poppies are all good pollinator­s, attracting insects that birds need to feed on.

Planting more trees, hedges and shrubs of all varieties gives birds and other small mammals places to hide from predators.

Blackbirds like to make their open nests in the branches of hedges, so wait until later in the year to cut these back. Brambles are particular­ly good for songbirds, who like to nest in them and forage their fruit.

sow sunflowers now, so that by the autumn you will have giant seedheads for wildlife to feast on. Rowan trees are hardy and need little maintenanc­e, but provide a home for many insects, and their berries are a favourite of starlings.

thorny hawthorns make secure nesting sites and their ‘haws’ are loved by migrating birds. Honeysuckl­es and nasturtium­s also attract insects, which in turn provide food for birds.

A nesting box is a great way to provide a safe environmen­t for birds to rear their young. these should be positioned 2 m to 4 m above ground level on a wall or tree. small 25 mm holes will attract blue tits, coal tits and marsh tits, while slightly larger 35 mm holes suit great tits, nut hatches and tree sparrows.

Robins, wrens and spotted flycatcher­s prefer open-fronted boxes. it’s not too late to hang a nesting box, but if you have an existing one, hopefully you have cleaned it out for a new mating pair. if not, don’t disturb it, as birds are now house-hunting.


We ARe a nation of cat lovers, but during the nesting season you can take simple measures to protect birds. these include keeping your pet indoors early in the morning and evening when birds are feeding their chicks. Play with your pet so they don’t hunt out of boredom, and fit them with a bright collar that acts as a warning.

One of the most important things you can do to protect songbirds is stop using pesticides and weedkiller­s. instead, use companion plants, including strongly scented flowers, to ward off pests. And remember that, if you turn your garden into a haven, birds will come in and eat unwanted insects.

Once you have taken as many of these measures as you can, it’s time to sit back and listen to the birdsong, one of the sweetest sounds nature has to offer.

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 ?? ?? Singing the blues: Encourage blue tits to nest in boxes placed away from predators
Singing the blues: Encourage blue tits to nest in boxes placed away from predators
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