Garden Maintenance: Five ways to attract birds to your garden

Bird’s natural habitats are dwindling, and you can help by making your backyard a safe haven for all of your favorite birds. You'll be amazed at how many different species of birds you can attract just by providing a few inviting elements:

1. Bird-friendly plants

The best feeding program for birds is to plant shrubs and trees which offer nature's menu.

Nectar Feeding Birds: Flock to nectar producing plants like Aloes, Watsonia’s, Leonotis spp, Kniphofia - red-hot pokers ( spp.) and Wachendorfias

Seed eating birds: Are attracted to the seed heads of grasses and grains.  They also thrive on the seeds of ordinary daisies such as the Euryops daisy.

Fruit eating birds, such as Lories are attracted to fruit producing plants. Try the tree fuchsia (Halleria lucida), dune crow-berry (Rhus crenata) or white stinkwood (Celtis africana). 

2. Water for birds

Every garden should have a bird bath in the quieter part of the garden preferably near thick foliage and established trees, so that the birds can perch nearby and not feel exposed. Avoid placing a bird bath directly underneath tree branches, as falling leaves and bird droppings may soil the water. Keep the bird bath topped up over winter, as many birds will frequently visit to drink and bath. 

3.  Feed for birds

Feeding stations are a wonderful way to attract birds to your garden.These are often equipped with small perches, allowing only small birds such as finches and sparrows to feed, but making it difficult for large seed eaters such as doves and pigeons to perch and feed, which would otherwise rapidly finish off the bird seed. Other bird feeders include platforms where seed and suet can placed. They often have spikes where fruit can be anchored for fruit eating birds. These bird feeders can be placed on top of a sturdy pole or hung from a tree branch. Know what foods to avoid as birds are often poisoned by foods that are hard on their systems. Be sure to buy high quality seed. Bread, crackers and other carbohydrates can have ingredients that are harmful

4. Nesting boxes

Hollowed out logs, available from garden centers, are a favorite with barbets who use them for breeding. Anchor the logs vertically on tree trunks several metres off the ground. Traditional square or rectangular box nests are also available and can be anchored securely around various parts of the garden. Dead logs and tree trunks make ideal nesting spots for birds such as barbets and woodpeckers.

5. Mulch and compost

Leave fallen leaves and logs in the garden as these will provide micro-habitat for various insects, grubs and worms, which will in turn attract insect feeders These birds love the dense undergrowth of gardens where they turn over leaves and debris in search of grubs.