Direct4Pet's Guide to Keeping Birds in Your Garden

One of the greatest benefits of bird keeping is how easy birds are to care for. Not only are they both beautiful and fascinating to watch, keeping birds requires fairly minimal effort and responsibility and are perfect for those who don’t have the means to keep traditional domesticated pets. Plus, if you’re successful in creating a rich environment to attract a variety of birds, they can also help to get rid of any pesky pests and insects, lawn weeds and contribute to flower pollination - particularly beneficial if you’re a keen garden keeper. 

Whether you’re a novice looking to pursue bird keeping or you’re in need of tips and tricks on how best to attract birds to your garden, our animal experts at Direct4Pet are here to offer impartial advice and inspiration on how best to care for, feed and attract these beautiful creatures. Keep reading for answers to your most commonly asked questions on bird keeping, discussing everything from the best bird seed and feeders to colours birds are most drawn to and more.

What can I put in my garden to attract birds? 

Attracting birds to your garden couldn’t be easier. When considering what to put in your garden, the first step is to understand the natural behaviour of birds. As birds spend up to 80% of their day foraging and feeding, the number one trait that will attract birds to your garden is a rich assortment of food and bird-friendly plants. As is their nature, we also know that birds love water and seek out safe places to build nests and rest, so, as an avid bird enthusiast, it makes sense to pay close attention to this and consider adding a bird bath or box to your garden. 

Below, we have outlined the four main things you should consider placing or adding to your garden to help attract the attention of birds. 

Bird food

Most birds in their natural habitat will spend roughly 6-18 hours of the day searching for food and eating, depending on their species. Whether they forage high in a tree or seek food on the ground, having a reliable and constant source of food is essential to their survival. By installing an array of bird feeders in your garden, you will likely encourage birds to come and source their food from you.

The foods birds love to eat most often include:

  • Seeds and grains like nyjer, millet, oats, and sunflower seeds
  • Fat or suet balls 
  • Insects such as mealworms 
  • Human food scraps like cooked rice, pasta and potatoes
  • Fruits such as apples, pears, bananas and grapes.

Here at Direct4Pet we offer a wide range of bird food from tried and trusted pet brands that are perfect for filling up your bird feeders.

Harrisons High Quality Premier Wild Bird Food Seed MixGardman High Quality Bird Food Sunflower Seed

Harrisons High Quality Premier Wild Bird Food Seed Mix £18.99 and Gardman High Quality Bird Food Sunflower Seed £32.99 

Formulated with premium quality, palatable ingredients, this Premier Wild Bird Food Seed Mix from Harrisons is a 100% wheat free mix that contains maize, milley, sunflower hearts, peanut granules and more. This bird seed is made up of the perfect mix of bird’s favourite foods which ensures every last piece will be eaten, meaning no waste or mess in your garden. Whether you use it to fill up a hanging bird feeder, bird table or to simply sprinkle on the ground, this mixed bag of seed assortment is sure to bring a variety of wildlife to your garden.

If you choose to sprinkle bird food on the ground it’s important that you are aware of the potential rodents this may attract. Bird seed can attract animals such as rats, mice and squirrels, that can carry diseases and potentially infiltrate your home. To avoid this from happening, it’s important that any bird seed you put on the ground is not left to accumulate. Alternatively, if you choose to use a bird feeder, we suggest putting it in a different location in your garden each time it is filled - this will cause confusion to the rats whilst still being beneficial to the birds.

Sunflower seeds are also known to be one of the most loved foods by birds, therefore this bag of Gardman High Quality Sunflower Seed is guaranteed to attract a variety of birds. High in protein, fat and packed full of vitamins and minerals, your feathered friends will be grateful to stumble upon these delicious seeds all year round.

Peckish Mealworm Bird FoodGardman Supreme Bird Food Suet Balls

Peckish Mealworm Bird Food £20.99 and Gardman Supreme Bird Food Suet Balls £15.99 

Loved by many garden bird species, such as finches, blackbirds and robins, mealworms are  high in protein and ideal for helping young birds survive to become adults. This pack of Peckish Mealworm Bird Food can be used either alone as a treat or added to a bird seed mix to provide extra protein. 

It’s important to note that if many birds gather in your garden for this food, they will become reliant on your help with feeding and so you must continue to provide this food all year round, especially during winter when food sources are scarcer. We suggest placing mealworms and bird seed in different areas of your garden to help prevent overcrowding in one area, giving as many birds as possible a chance to eat.

Ideal for during the colder months, suet balls are a great source of essential fats and proteins and help to provide birds with an instant energy boost. This tub of Gardman Supreme Bird Suet Balls are mixed with black sunflower seeds and peanuts, meaning they are packed full of concentrated calories and are great for helping keep birds full for longer. Simply place these suet balls into a feeder and watch as a whole range of birds come to enjoy.

Bird bath

Water is, of course, also essential to a birds’ survival as they not only need it for drinking, but also bathing. Therefore, providing a fresh, clean water source in your garden is a great way to entice birds in. We suggest using a bird bath, or if this is not possible if space is limited, a bowl of water that is put out in a shaded area of your garden is recommended. However, it’s important that the level of water is kept shallow, no deeper than two inches and that it is refreshed often to prevent bacteria from spreading. 

A bird bath is not only great for birds during warmer months to bathe in cool water but is equally as important in winter as it helps to keep their feathers in good condition, helping to loosen dirt and make their feathers easier to preen. Although adding ice to a bird bath in summer can help keep birds cool, be sure to remove any ice that may accumulate during the winter and instead fill the bird water with warm (not hot) water to make it more comfortable and enjoyable for birds.

Bird box

Adding a bird box to your garden is another tried and tested way of attracting birds. 

Bird boxes provide a safe and comfortable environment for birds to roost, lay eggs and raise their young and are also great at providing birds with shelter from bad weather. By adding a few bird boxes to sheltered areas of your garden, you are providing birds with a safe and secure place to nest and rest, away from potential predators. We recommend that you place these boxes in areas out of direct sunlight and away from potentially strong winds - a position that is either north or east facing is best.

Depending on the type of birds you are wanting to attract, there are varying options for the types of bird boxes you can choose from:

  • Open-fronted nest boxes are ideal for robins and wrens. These boxes should be placed lower to the ground and hidden amongst shrubs, trees and other plants.
  • Classic small-holed nest boxes are what you will recognise as the traditional bird box. These nest boxes feature a small hole at the top for birds to enter through and are suitable for a wide variety of small garden birds. These types of boxes should ideally be placed 2-4 metres up a tree or wall to keep them away from predators.
  • Sparrow terraces are specifically designed for attracting sparrows to your garden. Sparrows are known to breed in colonies and these sparrow terraces are essentially three small-holed bird boxes in one, allowing space for them to reside together. These boxes should be placed high up, ideally under the eaves of a roof for added protection.

Bird-friendly plants

Another great way to help keep birds in your garden is to plant an array of bird-friendly flowers, shrubs and plants. 

By creating an oasis for birds in your garden you will not only help to provide a spot for shelter and nesting, but will also provide a great natural food source. We suggest planting flowers, shrubs and trees that are native to your area which will help to naturally attract birds as well as strengthen your local ecosystem. Berry-rich trees and shrubs such as hawthorn, holly and rowan are excellent trees to consider, as they help to provide a natural food source. As well as this, common plants bird keepers tend to plant also feature sunflowers, ivy and honeysuckle, as these also offer an abundance of seeds and leaves for birds to feast on.  

It’s important to note that birds are drawn to bright colours, especially those that are similar to the colour of their own species as it aligns with their natural breeding instincts. Therefore, another great way to attract birds to your garden is by planting an array of colourful wildflowers in your garden, which will not only provide food for birds but also create a beautiful, low-effort flower display in your garden.

How do you feed garden birds?

While this may seem like a straightforward task, knowing the best way to provide food for birds in your garden can be tricky. The first thing you should consider is how the birds will access the food, whether you opt for a hanging bird feeder, a tray or choose to sprinkle food across your garden, ensuring there is an easy accessible place for the birds to get food is essential. 

Secondly, be sure to choose a bird food that contains a rich mixture of seeds and grains. AS we noted above, most common bird species love sunflower seeds, suet, maize, nuts, mealworms, cereals and many more nutrient and protein dense foods. By adding these foods to your regular bird feeder, you can guarantee that an array of birds will likely keep coming back for more.

What months should you feed birds?

Although birds can be fed all year round, the spring and winter months are a particularly important time to make sure the birds have enough food to see them through. Due to food being in short supply during these periods, birds will naturally find it harder to locate the food they need to thrive through tough seasons. Therefore, making sure your garden is well stocked with feed readily available will keep them healthy and well fed.

Where is the best place to put a bird feeder?

The most common way to feed birds in your garden is to use a hanging bird feeder that is placed high up in a shaded area so that the birds you attract can eat freely, in a cool and secluded spot. The position of the feeder is also important, by placing it in an area that has a full view of the garden, you allow the birds wider visibility of any potential threats, making them more likely to keep coming back as they can feed peacefully without worrying about predators.

Rosewood Recycled Plastic Hanging Garden Bird Food FeedersPeckish Ready To Use Hanging Garden Bird Feeders

Rosewood Recycled Plastic Hanging Garden Bird Food Feeders £5.39 and Peckish Ready To Use Hanging Garden Bird Feeders £7.09 

A great way to feed birds while also being  kinder to the planet, the Rosewood Recycled Plastic Hanging Bird Feeders offer a unique take on the classic feeder. Made from 100% recycled plastic, each feeder prevents 21 cartons from going to landfill and uses 50% less energy to produce compared to a traditional plastic feeder. Available in a variety of designs, offering feeding chambers of different sizes to appeal to varying birds, these hanging feeders are perfect for everything from sunflower seeds to suet pellets and more. Robust, easy-to-clean and featuring an easy to remove port for easy cleaning, these hanging feeders mean no more rusting metal or rotting wood and can be recycled themselves.

If you’re a first time bird keeper and are looking for a fuss-free way to feed birds, thePeckish Ready To Use Hanging Feeders are perfect. Designed to offer a simple feeding solution for beginners and experienced bird feeders alike, these feeders are filled with Peckish’s complete all season mix which is specially designed to attract the UK’s top ten garden birds. These feeders contain red millet, maize, sunflower hearts, naked oats, peanuts, oyster shell grit and more, and can be refilled time and time again to keep birds coming back for more.

What colour do birds like the most? 

Scientists have found that most birds are most drawn to the colours, blue, purple and green and are less attracted to white, red and yellow, as these were believed to be reminiscent of ‘warning colours’ birds often recognise in nature. Studies have shown that birds tend to avoid dull or bright white colours as this can often signal alarm or danger to birds. 

Instead, birds are drawn to colours of nature such as brown, green and grey, as this helps them to camouflage and naturally feel safe. This is particularly important for birds that tend to have more nervous temperaments such as doves and thrushes as they will be searching for places that represent safety and security away from predators. Therefore, we suggest that when creating an attractive garden area for birds that you keep in mind the colours they are drawn to and avoid colours that may be alarming.

What are the easiest birds to attract? 

One of the most common garden bird species in the UK that are easy to attract are house sparrows. House sparrows have been found to be the most routinely spotted garden bird for the last 19 years in the UK and are most likely already populating your garden from time to time. However, if you’re wanting to attract a wider variety of birds, you must ensure that your garden has areas of thick vegetation, an array of bird food including sunflower seeds and a bird box or terrace available  to encourage them to nest. 

By hanging up multiple bird feeders across your garden filled with nutritious and delicious bird seed you may attract not only house sparrows but also goldfinches, blue tits, starlings, greenfinches and more.

How often should you feed birds?

Refilling your bird feeder at least once a day, while making sure it’s thoroughly cleaned at least once every two weeks, ensures that the birds in your garden will be getting enough food to see them through the day, without the risk of spreading any bacteria. Cleaning regularly will help to eliminate any chance of bacteria that can cause disease, as this can easily spread between birds if the feeding and drinking equipment provided isn’t properly maintained.

At Direct4Pet, we would suggest putting the bird feed outdoors at a similar time each day, ideally in the early morning, as this will provide birds with an indication of when to travel to your garden for food. If you notice that the feeder isn’t being emptied, or it’s taking a couple of days to clear, the amount of feed you’re using should be reduced to avoid food waste and build-up. As for water containers, these should be rinsed out at the end of each day and left to dry overnight before adding fresh water each morning.

When you notice birds are using the feeders, it’s worth keeping an eye out for the different types of birds, as it can be useful to gain an understanding of the behaviours and eating habits of each species. Common birds seen in UK gardens include Robins, Blue Tits, Blackbirds, Chaffinches, Wood Pigeons, Starlings and House Sparrows.

Create a bird-friendly garden with the help of Direct4Pet

Using our detailed and insightful advice and knowledge of bird keeping above, it’s time to get started on curating the perfect bird-friendly garden. Browse through our full collection of bird products including bird healthcare, bird seed and feeding supplies available here at Direct4Pet to help you on your bird keeping journey.