Welcome to this new series where I share my joy and the devotion I feel to looking after and feeding garden birds. In turn, it is one truly magical part of my life that allows me to seek whimsy, wonder and enchantment in my everyday. It’s my hope it will do the same for you!
This post will be one of a whole series that will guide you through the basics of feeding and nurturing garden birds so that you can reap the benefits of this beautiful hobby (and, in return, create a gift to Mother Earth).
In this first post, I’m outlining the very first steps I would advise someone to consider before they start feeding garden birds.
In future posts, we’ll then go into what food is best, as this will vary at different times of the year.
I’ll also help you identify the birds you have in your garden already, how to clean your feeders, how to look after your bird cafe, and how you can encourage birds to nest in your garden and surroundings.
To make the most of this post, you might want to jot some ideas in a notebook so that you have everything ready to get started. On the days leading up to Imbolc in February, this is a truly beautiful time of year to start as birds will soon be preparing to nest.
I’m so excited to share this devotion of mine with you all! Here’s to the start of your magical, enchanting bird cafe!
Why is feeding garden birds perfect for seeking whimsy, wonder and enchantment?
When I arrived back in the UK in March 2020 due to Covid, I felt the call more than ever to ground myself in the natural world and let Mother Nature hold me.
Opening my windows in the morning the sound of the birds singing and chirping was heart-achingly beautiful and reminded me that whilst the world had felt like it had stopped, nature only became louder in its rapture and awe.
My passion for feeding birds started in early childhood as my grandparents both adored this hobby. We always had multiple feeders in the garden and outside of this, I visited wildlife spots to discover other birds.
So as you can see, I could write an entire post on why feeding garden birds is the most perfect activity for seeking whimsy, wonder and enchantment!
But in short, as you open yourself up to the wonders of the world, you’ll find how much life the world has to give, and how much love you have to give it in return. I feel this is so deeply needed in these times.
In essence, this is how I would describe the enchantment I find that surrounds my devotion to feeding my garden birds. They don’t need me, they are wild, magical, majestic creatures living in the medicine of the natural world.
Despite our bombardment of what feels like endless bad news, we do live in a world that is magical. And within this magic, there is one energy that is pervading all things and our world is full of so much interconnectivity.
However, yes, we do also live in a world where many do not see it as magical. As a result, feeding the birds also helps wildlife conservation and specifically helps reverse the trend of declining populations of many of our once common birds. How wonderful to know that our gardens can be considered a vital component part in a much wider conservation effort.
And every little can truly help. You only have to spend a bit of time in a garden to notice this! The flowers give fragrant life to bees, insects become fuel for birds, and fallen twigs and branches become a base for homes.
When you begin to seek an enchanted life you will soon realise that you are not separate from nature. In fact, you are an expression of nature.
Engaging in such activities such as feeding birds will allow you to have an intimate view of the natural world. You will also be able to come back to yourself and re-wild yourself in the process.
Benefits of Feeding and Nurturing Garden Birds
So we’ve covered a lot of the enchanting possibilities that feeding garden birds will give you. But what about other practical possibilities? Here’s my top 7!
- Awareness of the Natural World: Feeding birds can be a fascinating educational activity for all ages. You’ll soon become aware of the many different species and the vast magical differences between them all. Did you know just how different a Blue Tit is from a Long Tail Tit? Moreover, even just changing feeder styles and food types can help you learn about the birds that visit, and observing all of this will help you learn about behaviours, identifications and personalities (because trust me, they are the sweetest most entertaining creatures!).
- Insect Control: Feeding birds in your garden also invites them to feast on the insects, worms, snails and spiders in your landscape. This can provide ideal organic pest control with little need for insecticides or other harmful chemicals. Why not build an insect house if you are able to?
- Flower Pollination: Birds also assist with flower pollination, resulting in full flowerbeds and beautiful bird-friendly landscaping with less overall effort for gardening.
- Weed Control: Many small birds such as sparrows and finches eat a tremendous amount of seeds, especially from seed-bearing flowers or weeds that might be undesirable in your landscape.
- Better entertainment than TV: There is honestly nothing more gorgeous or entertaining than watching my birds. When I open my curtains in the morning to see them chirping and enjoying the cafe I have built is a feeling of the sublime. In addition, seeing them go into their little roosting nests or bird boxes is such a joy. You can find so many ways to capture this joy and photographers with an interest in nature can enjoy a proliferation of poses right outside their windows when they feed the birds!
- Interacting With Nature: Feeding the birds gives you such an intimate interaction with nature. So often when I have been bedbound, I can just about make it to my window to see them and it fills my heart with happiness. For many, feeding the birds is an opportunity to see wild animals in action. I have also donated feeders and food to care homes as it’s such a beautiful passion to share.
- Outdoor Pets: I truly feel like I am a friend to my birds. I recognise them so intimately as they flock daily to my feeders. As you become more familiar with your birds, you too will recognise them. Some have individual markings and many others have little personality traits that I always remember. They also become very aware of when I am going to feed them and it’s so beautiful to have this relationship with them.
Location, Location: What birds will visit?
I think one of the most costly mistakes people make with feeding garden birds, both with money and time, is not understanding and appreciating their natural surroundings. This to me is the key to success and enjoyment!
I live near the coast in the South of England surrounded by deciduous woodland so I’m extremely blessed to welcome a variety of birds that include the Tit family (blue, coal and great), Robin, Woodpeckers (both red and green), the Nuthatch, Goldcrest, Pied Wagtail, Finches, Robin, and Blackbirds, Tawny Owl and even the Buzzard!
In order to establish the right environment for the birds you currently have visiting/ expect to be in your local area, I recommend spending a little time observing the birds that already come to your garden.
By the way, I talk about gardens a lot and I realise this is a privilige many don’t have. Please know that it is absolutely possibly to feed from cities! I know so many who embrace window feeders and it’s so wonderful to see! But as with the above: it’s still so important to know what birds are in your location.
In the next section, I outline some of the key tools I recommend you collect and one is a reference book on birds that will help you greatly with identifying your gorgeous visitors! The RSPB is a wonderful one-stop shop for such books!
In fact, maybe you would like to join me and thousands of others across the country in the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch that is taking place in the last weekend of January. Their website is also packed full of wonderful information to get started.
How do I start feeding garden birds? Where do I start? My Top 10 Bird Feeding Essentials
So: where and how do you start to create your bird cafe?
Here are my top 10 resources that you can slowly think about gathering before the next post in the series.
Please note that not every single thing here is something you need to purchase. Be guided by the space you have and what your location revealed.
- Feeding Table/Pole: If you have a garden this is a wonderful option. I have a lot of squirrels in my garden (we’ll cover this in a separate post!) so a bird table with loose food isn’t suitable. As a result, I have two poles where feeders hang.
- Food: You’re now ready for your food and feeders! I’m going to outline everything for feeding by the season in another post, but there’s a wonderful post here from the RSPB that covers tons of examples of feeding ideas. I truly think you can’t go wrong with seed to start off your bird cafe. Sunflower seed is something loved by so many birds, from tits to finches, and it’s easily accessible. I would recommend you don’t get huge packs of anything to start. Start very, very small. You really want to test what your birds like before you get tempted to bulk buy!
- Feeders: I recommend a good quality seed feeder to start that is easy to clean because this is incredibly important. Have a look here and see what you think will work for your surroundings. I think this bumper box is such a wonderful deal to test what works.
- Binoculars: Once your bird cafe is set up, I highly recommend binoculars! It’s so wholesome but so lovely! I absolutely love to look at my birds close up and just examine how they eat and move around.
- Bird Box: This is something that people assume they aren’t able to support but I SO highly recommend adding a bird box near to your bird cafe. Have a look at the options here. You will want to pick one that reflects what birds are coming to your garden. To find out how to put them up and where to put them, head here where you can download a PDF guide.
- Cleaner: I highly suggest you get yourself a cleaner as soon as you get your feeder and food. So many people don’t think about this step but you will see me repeat this a lot because it’s just so, so important! Please keep everything as hygienic and safe as possible for your darling angels that visit. Birds can pick up infections from dirty surroundings and we want to help them not hinder them. You can find cleaning supplies right here.
- Birdbath: A birdbath is essential to have in your bird cafe! You can either pick a ground one, a hanging one, or a small one for the ground. Perhaps you want to try a few and see what works best for your birds. There’s a lovely selection here.
- Gloves: Make sure you always use gloves when you are cleaning and feeding the birds. You will need two separate pairs: one for cleaning and one for feeding. An old flannel or towel can also be useful to have.
- Nesting Material: To help your birds nest in your garden, or nearby, you can also add nesting material. I have this very apple holder with some wool inside that I also purchased from CJ Wildlife (one of my favourite resources!).
- Bird Books: As mentioned above, it’s lovely to immerse yourself in the wonders of birds and having a book nearby can be so lovely. I recommend anything from the RSPB here.
And this list completes the first part to this series!
Thank you so much for reading this first post in my garden bird series!
We’re going to start slowly and steadily so that you can truly reap the gentle, unfolding rewards of the abundance this sacred, magical hobby will gift to your life.
And now I’d love to know: Do you currently have a bird cafe? Do you love feeding garden birds as much as I do? What birds visit your bird cafe?
Now I’d love to hear from you and can’t wait to share the next part to this series coming very soon. If you have any questions please leave them below!
Are you looking for more whimsical, enchanted magic?
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