Passionate newbie here!

I’ve recently developed a passion for birds and I want my kids to get involved too. What things should I do in my garden to invite more kinds of birds? We only had pigeons and blackbirds so far. 

  • Hi Nesli and welcome to the Community. I think the more you watch birds the more you will appreciate what amazing creatures they are and the more you will understand their behaviour. Getting your kids involved can only be a good thing for the future of conservation.

    I don't know what your garden is like but putting up a feeding station from which you can hang feeders is something you can do quickly. Sunflower hearts are popular with many bird including finches and tits are what most people would recommend. As the weather gets colder suet fat balls are a vital source of energy for many birds. I would recommend high quality suet balls. Avoid some of the cheaper garden centre products which contain fillers. Shop around for the best deals. Alternatively, for a cheaper solution you can make your own raw pastry from from lard and flour perhaps with some blitzed up sunflower hearts or peanuts.

    In the longer term try planting some shrubs which produce red berries  (like cotoneaster or pyracantha). These can attracts thrushes in the winter.

    I'm sure other people will have some good suggestions



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  • Hello Neslie, welcome from me up in Caithness at the very top of Scotland. Excellent info from TJ. I would add, if you try and have trees, shrubs, bushes, some form of cover in the garden, as the birds like to have somewhere to fly back and forth to, for cover and also some like to take food back and sit on the branches to eat. I feed premium bird seed, peanuts, Niger seed, sunflower hearts and fat balls and logs. Some find that their Niger seed is not taken but ours disappears as fast as the sunflower hearts! The home made pastry is a favourite, once they find it they will be back! You could also add suet pieces, grated cheese of dried fruit, whatever you have about the house. Enjoy, it is a lovely hobby and the children will love it.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  • Hi Nesli, from here in Dorset. Properly good advice from Tony and CL there,. One thing to note, if you're putting up new feeders, is you'll need some patience probably, as birds are reticent of using new food sources. On the nyger seed/ Sunflower heart question, I have a shared back garden and my neighbours and my feeders are maybe 20 feet apart but the finches won't take nyger seed from my feeders, but the same birds will from the neighbours though. Very fickle and very odd! I even gave him 3/4 of a sack I had so it wouldn't be wasted and the took that too, so it's not a brand preference either!!
  • Hello all, I am new here but have been feeding the birds in earnest for a few years now.

    How do they know the feed is there? I am always amazed that the minute I put anything out they are just there.

    The garden is ever so busy already this year, far busier than in previous years but is that because it is much cooler already? I don't know much, just what I see and what differs from year to year.

    I put out niger seed, fat balls, mixed seed with mealworms (this is what the new grey wagtail is gobbling up), peanuts and sunflower hearts. I am in south Hertfordshire and last winter fed 37.5kg of sunflower hearts plus a bit of the other feed.

    We used to have lots of sparrows but the parakeets saw them off, the parakeets have gone and there are 3 pairs of sparrows in the front garden and a few in the back garden, they tend to stick to the same garden.

    It is fascinating.
  • Hello TP, welcome from up in the very far north of Scotland, in Caithness. They are amazing are they not, you can fill up all the feeders and he presto before you can blink they are there!! I feed seed, nuts, sunflower hearts, Niger seed, fat balls and logs, and occasionally make home made pastry (they love that) it is cheap to make. Shops own flower and half the amount of fat, add to the mix seed, chopped nuts, suet, grated cheese, dried fruits, anything you like and a small amount of water to mix to a dough. Keep in the fridge a few hours and then shape to put in feeders, or your own home made pots. You can pull pieces and stick them on the twigs and trees, but beware if you start this, you will be baking for ever! We get the usual garden birds, sparrow, starling, all finches, great tit, blue tit, Robin, blackbird, Siskin, Dunnock and occasional others. At the moment we have mum and dad pheasant and three babies, so the cheap corn is going down a treat!

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  • In reply to Catlady:

    Hello Catlady, thanks for the tip on homemade feed, I will bear that in mind. I've found a good feed supplier on the internet and the birds are happy with it. A pheasant, a whole family of pheasants, fabulous, are you out in the countryside? I am the other side of a green to the main road and similarly have the same birds as you plus a lesser spotted woodpecker, magpies, loads of crazy woodpigeons, collared doves, blackbirds (I saw a pair this morning for the first time this year), green, gold and chaffinches, blue, great, coal and long-tailed tits. I am astonished at how many birds come into the garden and I am sure I have forgotten some, oh blackcap, jay and last year a redwing.

    Have some crows or jackdaws hanging around outside the garden, dive-bombing the magpies and the odd red kite swooping around overhead.
    Someone else questioned the grey wagtail on the feeder but I can't work out what else it could be; there is a similar bird but the wagtail was about the size of a large starling so I think bigger than the nuthatch I thought it could be.

    I am actually rubbish at identifying birds but my 'obsession' as my children see it gets everyone interested and family and friends have also started feeding birds over the past few years.

    It helps we have a large privet hedge, four buddleia, an apple tree and a bush with red berries that the woodpigeons love. We don't have a big garden and I am always surprised at how many birds come.
    (am I going on too much?!?!)

    Really appreciate your response, thanks ever so much. (I went to Dornoch Castle once, not quite as far up as you are)
  • Hi TP, no you are not going on too much, obviously excited about your new hobby. We live in the country. There is an estate a mile away so the pheasants presumably came from there initially. I came home one day and there were 12 around the garden. Once a male, I call them all Percy, would hand feed. These little ones are so funny, not tame at all yet and as soon as they hear the door they are away at such a rate! We also have crown and gulls and have had visits from thrush, woodpecker, redwing, redpoll. We had a nest of swallows at the front door one year who had two babies, that was great excitement!

    Dornoch is about an hour and a half south of us.

    Must away, late lunch, time to go back to work.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  • Welcome to newbies Nesli and The Pirate from me on the Surrey/Hampshire border. It is wonderful that a passion for birds does begin to influence those around us which can only be a good thing for nature and the environment; keep up the good work! There are many posters here on the Forum who know a lot about birds so please ask if you have any more questions and someone will reply--we are all learning more as we go along.

    Kind regards,