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By April the breeding season is well under way and you will probably wake up to the dawn chorus most mornings. Migrant birds such as willow warblers, house martins, swifts and swallows will have returned from Africa to join the breeding frenzy. Adult birds will become more daring in their quest for insects, grubs and berries to feed their fledglings.

Digging With Spades

The red berries of the pyracanthas are popular with blackbirds, while the white berries of the snowberry will attract robins and finches. As well as providing food, thick and thorny shrubs like these help to shelter young birds from predators.

You should keep bird feeders well stocked for seed eaters such as finches and other farmland birds which sometimes venture into gardens at this time of year in search of extra food. However, make sure you don't put out whole peanuts as if fed to baby birds they can cause choking.

Safe bird foods include wildbird seed mixes, black sunflower seeds, mild grated cheese; sultanas, raisins and currants; pinhead oatmeal; fresh soft fruit such as apples and pears, mealworms and waxworms. You could also buy or make fat balls which provide plenty of energy for birds to keep their strength up during the breeding season.

Although it is tempting to begin tidying up your garden after the winter, if you can, try to leave some areas undisturbed as it helps wildlife. Birds may be nesting in hedges and shrubs, so it would be better to wait until after the nesting season to trim them back.

Leave nest boxes alone as much as possible although you may want to check that predators are unable to access them by removing any nearby branches or other points of easy access.

You may want to grow some bird friendly plants to attract insects to provide a natural food source for your wild birds. Single flowers tend to attract more insects than double blooms and bear in mind that birds can be attracted to a particular plant for its nectar, its pollen, the shelter it provides or its suitability for breeding. A variety of insect-friendly plants will attract more insects than the mass planting of a single species.

Now is the time to sow a wildflower meadow in time for the summer. You can buy ready-made wild seed mixes or design your own using a variety of grasses and flowers.

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