Gifts for Bird Lovers & Nature lovers


How to Encourage Birds to Nest in Your Garden

How to Encourage Birds to Nest in Your Garden

When birds come to nest in your garden, you get to see their life cycle from a ringside seat. You’ll hear beautiful birdsong as your garden birds woo one another. You’ll see nest building taking place. And you may even get to witness fledgling birds taking their first solo flight.

So how can you encourage birds to nest in your garden? Here are a few top tips:

Provide Food
Birds are attracted to gardens with a ready supply of food. They certainly won’t nest anywhere that doesn’t meet their basic needs. So that means providing bird food all year round. This could be a mix of bird seed, berries and fattier foods in winter months.

Ensure a Constant Water Supply
As well as food, birds need a reliable supply of drinking water. A bird bath or any shallow water-tight container will do the trick. You’ll need to change the water regularly to keep it clean. And remember that birds will feel much more comfortable taking a drink if they are in a raised position. That way they can easily spot any approaching predators.

Provide Shelter
Birds won’t want to visit your garden unless they feel safe. Perfectly manicured lawns, decking and bare fences don’t provide the cover from predators that birds look for. Provide some kind of shelter in the form of shrubs, trees and climbing plants. Hedgerows are another popular bird hideout if you have the space.

Maintain a Welcoming Bird Box
Birds can be pretty picky about where they choose to nest. This means just hanging a nest box isn’t necessarily enough to attract a courting pair. Put up nest boxes as early in the year as you can as birds sometimes scope out nesting spots during winter. And place them in a sheltered spot, away from feeders and the reach of cats.

Leave Out Nesting Materials
To really give nesting birds a helping hand, you can leave out some the materials they need to build strong, stable and cosy homes. You may be able to find wool scraps, feathers, twigs and even pet hair lying around the house. By forming these into a wreath or leaving them in an empty plant pot, you’ll provide a veritable DIY warehouse for nest builders.

Getting birds to nest in your garden means covering all of their needs. If your garden feels safe, provides food and water, and offers some cosy nesting spots, garden birds are much more likely to set up home there.

How to Create A Butterfly Garden

How to Create A Butterfly Garden

Butterflies are beautiful creatures. But they’re also an important part of the food chain. A range of birds, bats and insect-eating mammals all depend on butterflies and moths as a food source.

Why Create a Butterfly Garden?
Worryingly, three quarters of butterfly species across the UK are currently in decline. Habitats are being destroyed and weather patterns are changing, making their future uncertain. There’s never been a better time to welcome these amazing creatures into your garden.

How to Create a Butterfly Garden
Want to encourage butterflies to visit your garden? Here are a few key things you can do:  

Create Butterfly Food
Butterflies like colourful, nectar-rich flowers. Clusters of short, tubular flowers or flat-topped blossoms provide a great landing and feeding spot for butterflies. Try to create a garden that flowers throughout the spring and summer, providing a constant food source for butterfly visitors.  

Add Caterpillar Friendly Plants
You’re unlikely to see many butterflies in your garden unless you’re happy to welcome their offspring too. Caterpillars feed on nettles, thistles, grasses, holly and ivy – and female butterflies tend to lay their eggs on these plants. Include a few of them in your garden and let the grass grow a little longer in one patch of lawn.  

Make Your Garden as Sunny as Possible
If your garden is very shady, you won’t attract many butterflies. Butterflies rely on the sun to raise their body temperature each morning, allowing them to fly and stay active. Try to create at least one sunny spot within your garden.

Put up a Butterfly Box
A butterfly box will provide a safe haven for your garden butterflies during cold and rainy summer days. Some butterflies also overwinter as adults and need a warm, dry place in which to hibernate. Place a butterfly box close to the shrubbery that would usually attract butterflies in need of shelter.

Avoid Pesticides
Pesticides can be extremely harmful to butterflies and other pollinating insects. Avoid using them near any flowering plants. And be careful not to introduce new plants into the garden unless you know that they are free from potential harmful chemicals. It may be worth growing your own from seed or seeking out an organic garden centre so you can be sure.

Creating food, shelter and warmth will make your garden very attractive to butterflies. Put in a little work and you’ll be able to admire your beautiful garden visitors throughout the spring and summer.


Keep your bird feeders clean to prevent diseases

Keep your bird feeders clean to prevent diseases

Scientists have warned that garden bird feeders are contributing to the spread of avian diseases. Even previously rare diseases are turning into epidemics amongst some bird species.
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6 Best Garden-Friendly Insects

6 Best Garden-Friendly Insects

Gardeners often think of insects as unwelcome pests. When you spend lots of time caring for your plants, you don’t want them to be damaged by a hoard of ravenous bugs. But there are some six-legged creatures that help rather than hinder the growth of your garden.

Here are six of the best garden-friendly insects:

Hoverflies are often mistaken for wasps. They have a similar black and yellow colouring. But they don’t sting and they don’t have a bulgy abdomen and waspy waist. These flies feed on nectar and pollen so they help to pollinate your plants. Their larvae also feed on aphids and other garden pests.

Ground Beetles
Ground beetles love nothing better than feasting on some of our most troublesome garden pests – slugs and snails. And they like gardens where shady hidey holes are available during the day. So create a log or leaf pile or even a bug hotel to attract these helpful insects.

Parasitic Wasps
Parasitic wasps (which are all non-stinging) lay their eggs on or in other insects. The egg hatches and then eats the host alive before turning into an adult wasp. This is bad news for the caterpillars, ants and aphids that act as a host. But good news for your garden.

Butterflies and Moths
Butterfly and moth larvae will eat your plants. However, by growing a patch of long grass or giving over an ivy or holly plant to caterpillars, you can enjoy all of the benefits their parents bring to your garden. Butterflies and moths are excellent pollinators, helping your plants to reproduce year in, year out. A butterfly box gives them much-needed shelter on cold and rainy days.

Ladybirds are carnivorous. They feed on aphids and on red spider mites. A ladybird will lay its eggs in aphid colonies so its offspring have a ready source of food. When they hatch a single ladybird larvae can eat up to 5,000 aphids.

Lacewings are beautiful creatures. They have a small green body and huge, lace-like wings. Both adults and their larvae love to eat aphids and mites. A single lacewing larvae can eat up to 500 greenfly in the two weeks it takes to develop. Put up a lacewing box (that will also double as a ladybird box) to help these insects survive the winter.

Not all insects are a gardener’s enemy. Even the aphids we try so hard to get rid of provide a food source for the good bugs. And if you like the idea of cultivating a wildlife garden, you need to provide tasty treats for creatures at every stage of the food chain.

How to Choose a Bird Box

How to Choose a Bird Box

So you want to create a cosy home for your garden birds? There are a number of garden bird species that will happily set up home in a bird box.

But there are lots of different bird boxes to choose from. It can be difficult to work out which bird box features are necessary. And which could actually do more harm than good.

If you’re keen to welcome nesting birds into your garden, take a look at our handy guide to choosing a bird box:

What should a bird box be made from?
Bird boxes should be made from an insulated material like wood, with walls at least 15mm thick. Stronger woods like cedar or beech will stand up to the elements for a much longer period than pine. You can also preserve your nest box using a non-toxic, water-based treatment on the outside.

What size entrance hole should a bird box have?
Bird boxes come with a variety of different sized entrance holes. The one you choose will depend upon the bird species you want to attract to your garden.

A 32mm entrance hole is ideal for small hole-nesting birds such as sparrows and great tits. A smaller 26mm hole is perfect for blue tits. Bigger birds like starlings will need a hole of at least 45mm. And birds like the robin or the blackbird prefer an open-fronted nest box instead.

Which other bird box features are important?
It’s important to clean bird boxes at the end of every nesting season. This helps to prevent the spread of avian diseases and keep your garden birds healthy. For this reason, the inside of your bird box should be easily accessed. This allows you to dispose of old nesting materials and give the box a thorough clean before installing it in your garden again.

Which bird box features should I avoid?
Bird boxes don’t need a perch. In fact, a perch can help predators gain access to the box and the nest inside. You should also avoid bird boxes with a built-in feeding station. It’s best to keep nest boxes and bird feeders away from each other. That way feeding birds don’t disturb nesting birds.

Once you’ve chosen one, you need to put up your nest box in a suitable place. You should also make your garden attractive to nesting birds. With food, water and shelter in place, there’s no reason why garden birds won’t soon be nesting and raising their young in the bird box you choose.

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Migrating Birds to Look Out For in Winter

Migrating Birds to Look Out For in Winter

Over autumn we saw many birds leaving the UK in search of warmer climes further south. Swallows famously and rather spectacularly head to Africa as the weather starts to turn. But, we also say a temporary good bye to other species, including warblers, martins, swifts, cuckoos and turtle doves.

Whilst some birds (and some lucky humans) seek a little sunshine at the coldest and darkest time of year, others birds find a British winter mild and hospitable in comparison to the plunging temperatures of their own summer homes. Birds from Canada, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe migrate to the UK during autumn months to enjoy a better food supply and warmer temperatures.

In the spring, they’ll travel back to their breeding grounds further east and north. But in the meantime, we can sometimes see a few new visitors to our gardens. Here are a couple of migrating birds to look out for in winter and how to spot them:

Fieldfares have the appearance of a large thrush but are more colourful in comparison. They have a yellow and white breast and a grey head. Generally seen in the countryside, in hedgerows and in fields, they sometimes venture into gardens if the winter is particularly cold and a snowfall has covered their usual habitat. Fieldfares are social birds, spending their time in flocks that range from 25 or so to several hundred.

The redwing is the UK’s smallest thrush. Its most distinctive feature is an orange-red patch along both of its flanks. These birds make their homes amongst the hedgerows and fields of the countryside, a great source for the berries and worms they like to eat. They’ll also venture into gardens during a cold snap.

Bramblings are very similar to chaffinches in shape and size. The male brambling has an orange breast and a white belly whilst females have slightly more muted colouring. These birds are most commonly seen in woodland and in gardens, where they can feast on their favourite winter food – seeds.

There are likely to be some other newcomers to your garden in winter, although they’ll be more difficult to spot. Starlings, chaffinches, robins, lapwings, coots and blackbirds all migrate from colder countries in winter, joining birds of the same species who live in the UK year-round.

With so many visitors to cater for, any food you leave out for the birds is likely to be gratefully and hungrily received. If you’d like to provide food, give a special winter bird seed mix that contains more fat content and greater nutrition for your garden birds at this time of year.

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