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Urban birds

Hi, all. New poster here and I am hoping I might be able to get some feedback on what is reasonable to expect from my garden.

We moved in to our house not long ago, and I have spent the past few months turning the garden from a plain little square of grass into something a bit more varied and wildlife friendly. So far, there has been a huge improvement in terms of insect wildlife, but, despite having done my best to encourage them, there seems to be a limited range of birds using it.

The regular visitors to our garden are:
Blue tit
Collared doves

The semi-regular visitors are:
Pied wagtail
Wood pigeon

And then there are the very occasional visitors - goldfinches only twice during summer, sparrows only twice during summer, blackbird only once.

Does this sound like a decent level of diversity and frequency of visits for a tiny urban garden, do people think? I grew up in the countryside and I feel like there should be more, but it could be that I am expecting too much from what is a very built up area with few green spaces. I provide water and a wide range of different types of bird food, and I've planted things for insects, so I can't think of much else to try to encourage more birds into the garden (other than planting more shrubs for cover, but we just don't have room for that). One of our immediate neighbours has Astro Turf and the other doesn't like "mess", so the gardens adjacent to ours are ecological dead zones.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Thank you.


  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 49,201
    Hi @WillowBark. I think you're doing plenty of the right things, so don't worry too much  :)
    It can take a while for birds to get wind of the new facilities you're offering, and certainly, over winter, you'll get them visiting regularly and building up. There was very little activity in this garden when I moved in, as there were hardly any plants, but with a few changes, plenty of planting, a water source and feeders, I now have loads. Very few people round here are gardeners too, but it's improving. 
    If you don't have room for shrubs for cover, you can use climbers. If you can post a couple of photos, you'll get suggestions for other plants or ideas for providing cover too  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • delskidelski Posts: 274
    edited December 2020
    I've had everything on your list except a pied wagtail! The collared doves hang around in the neighbourhood but don't set foot in my garden for some reason. There are also a lot of crows but they fly away when they see me through the window etc.
    I had a lot of starlings last year but not as many this year. I always have regular blackbirds, robins, wood pigeons and magpies, plus the occasional coal tit, blue tit and goldfinch, especially when I put out sunflower hearts.
  • B3B3 South East LondonPosts: 24,102
    And loads of ****** parakeets😡
    In London. Keen but lazy.
  • SueAtooSueAtoo DorsetPosts: 264
    They do like to fly from and retreat to shrubs or trees a few feet away so as Fairygirl suggests, if you have none close by then (preferably evergreen) climbers up a fence, trellis or obelisk which will give you added interest in your garden too.
  • Helen P3Helen P3 Posts: 932
    Pigeons and parakeets: nightmares
  • Hi @Fairygirl , thanks for saying that you think I'm doing plenty of the right things, that's good to know! Hopefully more birds will start to come to the garden in time. It's reassuring to know that you faced similar issues but that things are going well now.

    In terms of shrubs, I have one Escallonia in the centre of the main flowerbed that I am hoping will fill out a bit next year. On the climber front, I have some passionflowers training up willow canes on the side of the shed, but it's a run down old shed (much loved by a family of mice!), so I don't want to add too much else to its load in case it collapses. I also have some clematis, a jasmine, and a blackberry that I am training across some knee-height willow arches next to a fence (didn't want to put them directly on the fence as the neighbour would not have been keen), and another golden clematis going up an obelisk to try and hide the black plastic compost bin a bit. Given what you have suggested, perhaps they will end up providing more cover for the birds than I realised - I thought only shrubs were really dense enough to do that! Are there any other climbers you would recommend for a newbie gardener that won't encroach on the neighbours?

    I am not sure if I have any decent photos of the whole garden, but I'll have a look.

    Thanks for your help and encouragement!
  • @delski I guess proportionally I don't put out many sunflower hearts compared to other foods, so perhaps I should up those a bit. It sounds like you have a nice range of birds visiting as a result.

    The sparrows here seem to do the same as your collared doves - I've seen them in neighbouring streets, but hardly ever in mine. Strange, isn't it?

    I was pleasantly surprised when the pied wagtail started making regular visits, as I'd only ever associated them with supermarket car parks before! He was an unexpected addition, but I think one of my favourites to watch.
  • @B3 and @Helen P3, we don't have the delight of parakeets where I am! I've heard they're quite the spectacle but a bit noisy, so I can see why you might not be so keen!
  • @SueAtoo I do have a single escallonia in a flowerbed (and also a large self-seeded dogwood coming up though a paving slab that I had forgotten about in my reply to @Fairygirl), so there's a bit of shrubbery, but it's a bit sparse. I have added some climbers already (passionflowers, clematis, jasmine) up the shed/an obelisk and along some low willow arches, but none that are truly evergreen. I'd always got the impression that evergreen climbers (ivy comes to mind) can be a bit thuggish, so I'd steered clear of them. Do you know of any evergreen climbers that won't run away with me and won't cause damage that you think might work?

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 82,298
    A constantly filled birdbath brings more birds to an urban garden than a feeder does ... especially in the spring and summer. 😊 
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

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