How to reconnect with nature

Did you know that more than half the world’s population now lives in urban areas? Or that more than 25 percent of green space in cities is made up of private gardens?

Because of this, gardens and balconies can offer residents in urban areas an opportunity to reconnect with nature during the COVID-19 lockdown.

If you‘re looking to fill your free time during isolation by making your garden a more wildlife friendly place, but aren’t sure how, then look no further! Our fortnightly editions of League Life will include some tips on how to encourage biodiversity into your garden, so that you can get your nature fix from the comfort of your own home.

This week we are discussing how to care for and encourage birds into your garden or onto your balcony.

Feeding them is the most popular wildlife gardening activity in the UK, US and Australia, with more than half of all households providing supplementary food for birds. However, if you would like to encourage more unusual native birds, rather than regular pigeons and magpies, then you’ll have to put a little effort in. Here are our 10 top tips to care for wild birds:

  1. Offer a wide variety of food sources that many species will benefit from, including varied seeds, insects and berries. The more varied the food you provide, the greater the variety of birds you’ll attract.
  2. Birds can become dependent on extra food sources, so remember to feed them all year round. Feeding birds over winter can ensure that they are in prime condition for the breeding season in spring.
  3. Birds prefer green and silver bird feeders, and are much less likely to feed from red or yellow ones - so steer clear of bright colours.
  4. You can encourage birds to nest by growing a variety of shrubs and trees or by providing artificial nest boxes - these are a great idea for people who only have a balcony.
  5. Make sure you place nesting boxes far away from any bird feeders, if you can. Nests located close to feeders are more likely to be raided by predators - like cats and squirrels - than those further away.
  6. The success of a bird’s breeding season is extremely sensitive, and our beloved pets can pose a great threat. Putting a bell on your cat or dog can help reduce the risk of attack on birds and their nests and improve their breeding success. 
  7. Birds love to nest in dense and tall shrubs. If you can plant some in your garden, choose native species that have both dense leaves for birds to hide in and a source of food, like berries. Good examples are hawthorn, holly and rowan trees.
  8. Avoid trimming your hedges between March and August when birds are nesting so that you don’t disturb or destroy any nests.
  9. Remember: it is an offence under Section 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to intentionally take, damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird while it is in use or being built, or to intentionally kill, injure or take chicks or adults, or intentionally take or destroy any eggs
  10. Contribute to science, by recording what birds you see in your garden. The British Trust for Ornithology is giving everyone free access to their Garden BirdWatch scheme during the COVID-19 lockdown.

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