Types Of Plants For Birds

A variety of plants in your garden will attract many different birds. Depending on the size of your garden you should consider planting a mix of trees, hedges, bushes, shrubs and flowering plants.

Sunflowers

Large, mature trees and hedges are the most valuable of all bird habitats because of the variety of food they offer and the opportunities for nesting and shelter.

Native trees such as oak, birch, beech, rowan and willow attract all sorts of insects and produce their own food for birds in the form of acorns, nuts, berries and catkins.

Apple, pear, plum, crab apple and other fruit trees also attract insects and of course fruit for birds to feed on. Fruit trees, particularly dwarf varieties, will take up a lot less room in your garden then a native tree and you can get special fruit trees that have been cultivated to have rapid growth.

If your garden is not big enough for a tree then a hedge is equally good for birds. Many thousands of miles of hedges have been destroyed in the countryside so by planting just a small hedge of hawthorn, privet or laurel you will provide some vital shelter which would otherwise have been lost.

Popular non-native trees such as the sycamore, horse chestnut and flowering cherry may look pretty and grow quickly but unfortunately they do not support the native insects that birds need to feed off.

Some non-native trees such as the evergreen Leylandii are suitable for birds due to their dense foliage but you must remember that these can grow very quickly and can soon take over your garden if left unchecked.

Bushes and shrubs will provide food and shelter in a bird friendly garden. Most bushes and shrubs are fairly fast growing and can be bought from a garden centre or easily grown from cuttings.

Native flowering shrubs are the best for birds as they not only provide shelter but are abundant with fruit and berries through the autumn and winter.

If you don't have much space in your garden then consider growing climbing plants like ivy, clematis and honeysuckle; all these will provide food and cover for birds.

Many flowering plants will attract birds, either because of the nectar in the flowers or because they produce an abundance of seeds at the end of the flowering season. Good seed-bearing plants include sunflowers, honesty, cornflowers and foxgloves.

Flowers such as primroses attract caterpillars and buddleia, will attract butterflies. Caterpillars are the staple diet of blue and great tit chicks so consider planting these especially if you have also put a special tit nest box in your garden.

A lawn can also make a great feeding ground for birds. Robins, blackbirds and song thrushes will feed on worms, and starlings and dunnocks will search out small insects. If you're very lucky a green woodpecker might drop by to look for its staple diet of ants.

In hot weather keep your lawn well watered as this will encourage worms to the surface for and in the winter you can use your lawn to put out windfalls for ground-feeders. If you can, leave a patch of your lawn to grow long as it will provide shelter for birds as well as food. A wild meadow will also attract insects providing another natural food source.

Take a look at our selection of bird and wildlife attracting plants for some inspiration.
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