December 21 is National Robin day.
A classic symbol of Christmas, who wouldn't want to welcome more into their garden?
We found out the best way to welcome them and other birds into your garden.
1. Fruits and berries
Blackbirds and thrushes love the fruits and berries of plants including rowan, berberis and pyracantha, while ivy berries, which ripen later, are invaluable to hungry birds in late winter and early spring when food can be scarce.
The black berries of the dogwood, a British native, will attract birds including finches, robins, pigeons, thrushes and starlings.
2. Apple trees
If you have room, consider planting an apple tree - birds love both cooking and dessert apples and crab apples, whose windfalls can provide them with food in the leaner months.
Early varieties of eating apples such as 'Beauty of Bath' and 'Discovery' don't keep well, so pick and eat what you need and leave the rest for your blackbirds, song and mistle thrushes, chaffinches, redwings and fieldfares.
3. Keep some shrubs they don’t like
Of course, you don't want the birds stripping your garden of all its colour, so consider planting some shrubs whose fruits they don't particularly like, including skimmia, aucuba and the guilder rose (Viburnum opulus).
4. Plant a hedge for nesting
Hedging can also provide a great nesting site for birds, shelter during frosty nights and food. Bare root hedging is widely available from nurseries and garden centres from November to mid-April.
Holly is slow-growing, but is among the most effective hedges for birds.
It ensures windproof shelter on frosty nights, nesting opportunities in spring and berries that attract blackbirds, thrushes and other birds. In spring, insects will be attracted to its flowers.
The hawthorn is another great hedging plant if you want to attract birds.
The dark red haws are a magnet for redwings and fieldfares in the winter, and its prickly stems ensure good nesting places for finches, dunnocks, robins and blackbirds.
5. Keep cats away
A range of relatively simple measures can be recommended which could help reduce the risk of cats catching garden birds, especially where food is being put out for birds, according to the RSPB.
Place spiny plants (such as holly) or an uncomfortable surface around the base of the feeding station to prevent cats sitting underneath it.
Plant wildlife-friendly vegetation, such as prickly bushes and thick climbers in the garden to provide secure cover for birds.
These should be close enough to where birds feed to provide cover, but not so close that cats can use it to stalk birds.
This kind of planting may also provide food and nesting sites.
If you can bear to have an area of brambles in a quiet corner of the garden, birds should gravitate towards it.
Blackbirds, thrushes, chaffinches, starlings, robins, pheasants, foxes, mice and other small mammals eat the fruits, while robins, wrens, thrushes, blackbirds, warblers and finches will nest in bramble and small mammals use it for protection from predators.
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