Attracting birds to your allotment

 

A robin sits and waits for worms to appear after the earth is turned over
A robin sits and waits for worms to appear after the earth is turned over, St Julians Allotment, April, 2013

THE winter months can mean a tough time for our feathered friends so, with the temperature dropping and the ground hardening, now is a good time to give them a helping hand. MERYL JONES looks at ways of attracting birds onto your plot.

ALTHOUGH some birds, such as pigeons, are considered to be a nuisance to allotments most birds are beneficial, and supporting wildlife can ensure a balanced ecosystem.

Many birds eat aphids, caterpillars, slugs, snails and sawfly and can also aid pollination, Allowing a wide range of insectivores on your plot will reduce the need for pesticides.

Regular inhabitants and visitors to St Julians Allotment include:- robins, thrushes, blackbirds, tits, chaffinches, woodpeckers, sparrows, wrens and charms of goldfinch among many others.

A means to attract birds

A female blackbird feeds on windfall apples
A female blackbird feeding on windfall apples, St Julians Allotment, December 2017

If you’re trying to attract birds don’t be too tidy by clearing your plot at the end of the growing season. Leave seed bearing flowers; veg such as sunflowers, artichokes, fennel, sweetcorn; and windfall apples and pears on the ground.

  • Plant verbena, teasels, asters, marigolds. If your plot has a hedge border encourage holly, ivy and honeysuckle – birds depend on hedgerow for survival.
  • Turn manure heaps occasionally for blackbirds and thrushes to have a good root through.
  • Open fruit cages to allow birds to clear grubs and other nasties from your fruit bushes
  • Break ice on water butts – birds need water for bathing and drinking

Feeding Birds

Feeding birds on the allotment is a commitment. Only begin if you intend to continue throughout the winter, as the birds quickly become dependent on your contributions.

  • No Mess Bird food: a little more expensive than whole seeds, but little chance of any waste seeds germinating and causing a weed problem in the spring
  • Niger Seeds: These require a special feeder with small slits that only allow small beaked birds to feed and and are particularly good for attracting goldfinches
  • Peanuts: A caged peanut feeder is necessary on our site as we have many big birds that will empty a peanut feeder in minutes. Peanuts are a favourite with tits and woodpeckers
  • Fat Balls: These can be messy and quite unpleasant, but when it is especially cold they are a life saver for many birds who need to keep their weight up to survive a harsh winter. Try and avoid the cheap ones that use sawdust as a filler. Unless, they are in a caged feeder large birds such as jackdaws will wolf them before the small bird can get to them.
  • Other Foods: These include sunflower seeds, mealworms, half coconut .

 

 

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