How to attract birds to your garden this winter

2 October 2023 – 4 Minute Read

bird perched on bird feeder

A garden filled with birds is a place you’ll want to spend time in. But how do you get birds to visit? Here’s everything you need to know about transforming your outdoor spaces into a bird’s paradise this winter.

In the UK, natural habitats are in decline . That means making our gardens usable for birds is only becoming more important.

To create a bird-friendly garden, there are several things you’ll need to think about. Putting out a few bird feeders isn’t enough!

Top tips for attracting birds to your garden

So, you’re determined to attract birds to your garden this winter – how do you make that happen? Take these steps – as part of your wider winter garden maintenance activities – to get started.

Provide shelter

Winter can be a tough time for birds. They need shelter from the cold if they’re to survive.

Make sure your garden has all the shelter they might need. Dense evergreens – like conifers – make excellent real estate, while other trees and shrubs will act as welcome sanctuaries as well.

Empty birdhouses are a good call for some birds (like blue tits and wrens) but many other birds prefer natural nesting environments. You can avoid leaving anyone out by providing both options.

Provide natural food sources

Birds enjoy foraging for food. Extra supplies help but you need to fill your garden with natural food sources as a start.

Seeds and berries are staples – ideal for many species. Of course, if you offer a variety of food, it’s likely you’ll welcome different types of birds.

Giving birds a safe and welcoming feeding environment is key. They’ll find plenty of sustenance in plants and trees, but you’ll need some turf for birds that prefer ground feeding as well.

Provide supplementary food

It’s not always easy for birds to access food during winter. That’s true even if your garden usually offers a bounty of natural food sources.

What can we do to help them? To start with, by putting out supplementary food sources. Setting up bird feeders is the most common approach – and is a big help to all sorts of birds.

So, what is the best food for bird feeders? The truth is that there’s no single best option. You should vary the food you offer, as different birds have different diets. A few options include:

  • Fat balls

Made from suet, are packed with calories and deliver high energy (making them perfect for winter.

  • Seeds

Providing a buffet of seeds, including black sunflower seeds and niger seeds, is sure to leave birds satisfied.

  • Mealworms

Both live and dried mealworms are suitable meals for birds and are especially popular with blackbirds and starlings.

The more food types you can supply, the better. You probably won’t get instant results, but once the birds know what’s on offer, they’ll keep visiting.

Supply fresh water

Like all living things, birds need water to survive.

This isn’t just for drinking – though, of course, that’s important – but for bathing, too. In winter, this is more important than ever. Birds will find preening easier, which helps with staying warm and free from water.

Set up a bird bath or a bowl of water and make sure to replenish it regularly. Pour some hot water on the surface if it freezes over, which is always a possibility during the coldest months.

bird perched on bird house

Create nesting sites

You’ll find creating a little bird community a lot easier once you create some nesting sites.

While not all birds nest during winter, there are several species that do. Put nest boxes in sheltered locations – away from the prying eyes of predators – to accommodate these birds.

Dense hedges and trees make great natural nesting sites but can be hard to supply during winter. Evergreens, like ivy, are useful here once again.

Consider local predators

No amount of premium bird food will attract birds to your garden if they’re worried about they’re safety.

Birds want to be able to see predators coming, and places to retreat to should a predator appear. For this reason, you need to think carefully about where you place bird feeders and baths.

Hanging bird feeders can make life difficult for cats, while strategically placing bird tables and baths near to cover might also make birds feel safer.

Clean out bird feeders and baths

When feeding stations, tables, and baths become dirty, bacteria and fungal spores can build up. If the build-up is severe enough, it could kill your local birdlife.

Luckily, avoiding this is easy enough. Make sure to clean your bird feeding stations regularly (at least once a month). You’ll have to replace old food and water every few days, too.

If the food you’re putting out isn’t getting eaten quickly enough, use smaller quantities moving forward. We don’t want unnecessary waste!

Creating a bird-friendly winter sanctuary

Birds have a hard time during the chilly winter months, but by following these tips, you can make their lives easier.

With food, water, shelter, and nesting sites, our feathered friends will have no problem settling in your garden throughout winter.

If you’re looking for bird food, feeders, nest boxes, or other supplies, visit your local garden centre today .