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June garden for birds

Midsummer approaches. While you sit back and rest, you will see birds gathering food for their fledglings. Most garden birds, even the seed-eating finches, tend to feed their young on insects at this time of the year.

If you feel annoyed by some insects around you, think about the parents feeding their children: don’t spray poison. You can keep unwanted insects away by simply planting aromatic plants near you sitting place. Most of them are anyway welcomed for your kitchen, like mint, basil, sarge, rosemary or lavender. If you get tiny pests such as aphids on your plants, it is still best to avoid spraying, as pesticides will also kill ladybirds and other helpful insects. Many birds, such as tits, will eat insect pests. If greenfly or aphids become a real concern, you can wash them off with a dilute solution of washing-up liquid.

Birds need water

While there is plenty of food around now, how about water? Birds need water for drinking and bathing. Particular during dry, hot summer days, it can be hard to find water. Have you ever thought about providing a regular supply of clean water for birds in your garden or on your balcony?

 

Most small birds need to drink at least twice a day to replace the water they loos through respiration and in their droppings. Many insectivorous birds get most of their water from food. Seed-eating birds have a dry diet and they do need to drink more. In areas with streams and ponds Water is freely available to small birds at the shallow edges. They may also drink water droplets that form on leaves, especially if they live in woodland. Aerial species such as swallows and swifts swoop down onto a water body and scoop up a beakful of water while still in flight. But, in arid areas it can be more difficult to find.

Also, birds like to take a bath to clean their feathers, or simply to cool down. Keeping a bird bath clean helps to prevent birds catching diseases. Clean your birdbath regularly and change the water. A layer of algae, dead leaves or bird droppings will soon build up, so give the bath a thorough clean every week or so. Scrub the sides and bottom to remove algae and other dirt.

A bird bath can simply be made out of a shallow, watertight bowl of some kind, such as an upturned dustbin lid or large circular plant tray.

How to make a perfect bird bath

To provide birds a bath they really like, you should keep a few points in mind:

It should:

have very shallow sloping sides;

have a maximum depth of only 10cm or so;

be as wide as possible, ideally more than 30cm across.

 

Place your bird bath where they will have a good view all around but can dart into the cover of bushes or trees nearby if they need to. If cats visit your garden, make sure there is nowhere they can hide within pouncing distance.

 

Feel if the inside of the bird bath is too smooth. If it is, the birds might slip into the water. Put some pebbles or rocks in the water to give them a better grip.

 

Fill with water and watch! Birds most water when the weather is very hot or very cold.

Blackbirds, robins, sparrows and starlings love a quick dip, while wood-pigeons may just sit in the water to cool off!