BUILD AND THEY WILL COME - Attracting birds through planting trees and shrubs.
Birds in your garden are wonderful, not only for us to enjoy their unique beauty, but they are an important part of the environment.
There are 140 recorded bird species in British gardens, they provide a vital habitat, but the relationship is mutualistic. Many plants and trees rely on birds for pollination and seed dispersal and they consume all sorts of bugs, helping to keep populations balanced. However small your garden or balcony, it provides an important part of the function and processes of the natural area and you can do many things to encourage more birds.
The planting of shrubs and trees is vital to bring birds to use your garden as cover because they feel safe from predators like SparrowHawks and our Peregrine's Marly and Roy , it will also encourage the things they eat too, creating greater biodiversity and garden health.
So do not be shy with the planting, get those natives shrubs and trees in and watch, for if you build they will come and with it bring more life to your garden, more moisture and shade in our heating climate and the web of life will grow stronger.
We do not need to understand it, just know that every plant, insect and animal that comes to your garden is to be cherished.
Here are a few ideas of our favorite things to plant in your garden to provide cover and food for birds and other species. Be diverse, the more you can fit in the more it will support diversity.
* Blackthorn - Prunus spinosa
Early flowering, blackthorn provides a valuable source of nectar and pollen for bees in spring. Its foliage is a food plant for the caterpillars of many moths, including the lackey, magpie, swallow-tailed and yellow-tailed. It is also used by the black and brown hairstreak butterflies. Birds nest among the dense, thorny thickets, eat caterpillars and other insects from the leaves, and feast on the sloes in autumn.
* Barberry - Berberis vulgaris
Berberis can be deciduous or evergreen bearing simple, often spine-toothed leaves, and small yellow or orange flowers followed by small berries. It is a deciduous shrub reaching a height of 2-3 metres. The orange-yellow flowers are borne in clusters in late Spring to early Summer, providing nectar for many insects, and followed by red fruits that are very attractive to birds.
* Blackberry - Rubus fruticosus
Brambles provide an important source of nectar for Brimstone and Speckled Wood butterflies; fruits for Song Thrushes and Yellowhammers; and hiding places for Hedgehogs and Dormice.
* Common Beech - Fagus sylvatica
Beech foliage is eaten by the caterpillars of moths, including the barred hook-tip, clay triple-lines and olive crescent. The seeds are eaten by mice, voles, squirrels and birds.
* Common Hawthorn - Crataegus monogyna
Common hawthorn can support more than 300 insects. It is the foodplant of many caterpillars. The haws are rich in antioxidants and are eaten by migrating birds, such as redwings, fieldfares and thrushes, as well as small mammals. The dense, thorny foliage makes fantastic nesting shelter for many species of bird.
* Common Dogwood - Cornus sanguinea
Providing wonderful Autumn and Winter colour. The leaves are eaten by the caterpillars of some moths, including the case-bearer moth, while the flowers are visited by insects and the berries are eaten by many mammals and birds
* Crab Apple - Malus sylvestris
The leaves are food for the caterpillars of many moths, including the eyed hawk-moth, green pug, Chinese character and pale tussock. The flowers provide an important source of early pollen and nectar for insects, particularly bees, and the fruit is eaten by birds, including blackbirds, thrushes and crows. Mammals, such as mice, voles, foxes and badgers, also eat crab apple fruit.
* Dog rose - Rosa canina
Dog rose flowers are an important nectar source for insects and its fruits are a food source for birds such as blackbirds, redwings and waxwings.
* Field Maple - Acer campestre
Field maple is attractive to aphids and their predators, including many species of ladybird, hoverfly and bird. Lots of species of moth, such as the mocha, feed on its leaves. The flowers provide nectar and pollen sources for bees and birds, and small mammals eat the fruits.
* Guelder Rose - Viburnum opulus
The red berries are an important food source for birds, including bullfinch and mistle thrush. The shrub canopy provides shelter for other wildlife. The flowers are especially attractive to hoverflies.
* Hazel - Corylus avellana
Hazelnuts support many species but are also eaten by woodpeckers, nuthatches, tits, wood pigeons, jays and small mammals. Hazel flowers provide early pollen as a food for bees.
* Holly - Ilex aquifolium
Holly provides dense cover and good nesting opportunities for birds, while its deep, dry leaf litter may be used by hedgehogs and small mammals for hibernation.
The mistle thrush is known for vigorously guarding the berries of holly in winter to prevent other birds from eating them.
* Honeysuckle - Lonicera periclymenum
Honeysuckle is hugely valuable to wildlife, supporting several species, many of which are rare. Butterflies, such as the white admiral (which is in decline), rely specifically on honeysuckle, and it is also prized by bumblebees.
Pollinating moths are attracted to the sweet scent of honeysuckle at night, when it is strongest; and birds, including thrushes, warblers and bullfinches, eat the berries when they ripen in late summer and autumn. Dormice also rely on honeysuckle for both shelter and food. They use honeysuckle bark to build nests for their summer young, but also eat the sweet, nectar-rich flowers as a source of energy.
* Ivy - Hedera helix
Nectar, pollen and berries of ivy are an essential food source for insects and birds during autumn and winter when little else is about. It also provides shelter for insects, birds, bats and other small mammals. Many rare insects are attracted to ivy flowers, including the golden hoverfly.
* Rowan - Sorbus aucuparia
Flowers provide pollen and nectar for bees and other pollinating insects, while the berries are a rich source of autumn food for birds, especially the blackbird, mistle thrush, redstart, redwing, song thrush, fieldfare and waxwing.
* Silver Birch - Betula pendula
Woodpeckers and other hole-nesting birds often nest in the trunk, while the seeds are eaten by siskins, greenfinches and redpolls.
* Spindle - Euonymus europaeus
The leaves are eaten by caterpillars of moths, including the magpie, spindle ermine and scorched, as well as the holly blue butterfly. The leaves also attract aphids and their predators, including hoverflies, ladybirds and lacewings, as well as the house sparrow and other species of bird.
* Privet - Ligustrum vulgare
Wild Privet is also the main food plant of the privet hawk-moth and provides cover for small birds and other animals.
* Wild Clematis - Clematis vitalba
The seedheads of this plant provide a food source for birds, such as goldfinches.
Do not forget the Much Wilder Marlow campaign is about helping to create a wildlife corridor in Marlow. Let us know what you are up to a get some ideas on how you can help easily by pledging at https://forms.gle/MtnF63K3ohckcCJd9
Sources: The Woodland Trust and The Wildlife Trusts