Planting Trees For Birds

If your garden is large enough planting some trees will help attract a large number of birds providing food, shelter and nesting sites.

Crab Apple Tree

Trees provide sap, nectar, nuts and fruits that birds will eat and the leaves will collect water that small birds can drink. The bark and leaves will also contain many insects and bugs that birds can feed from. Branches and thick foliage will provide shelter from the weather and predators and many birds will roost in trees at night. Birds can either build nests in branches or in cavities in the branches and trunks of trees.

There are three types of trees that you can consider when planting a bird friendly garden. If you have a mature garden then design your garden around them where possible. Plant native trees if you can as these provide the best habitat for birds.

Deciduous trees are broadleaved trees that lose their leaves in the winter and are the most common of British native trees. In spring they will be covered with flowers and buds and during summer many will provide fruit. When their leaves drop in the autumn the leaf litter will be a good source of food for ground-feeding birds as well as being a home for insects. Deciduous trees include oak, willow, chestnut, rowan and hawthorn.

Coniferous trees are evergreen trees that have stiff needle-like leaves. They are essential for shelter in winter particularly in areas with cold temperatures and heavy frost and snow. Pine, fir, yew and spruce are all examples of coniferous trees.

Fruit trees are deciduous trees and if you grow apples, cherries or pears for your own consumption you will understand how important these trees are for birds! You can buy special netting to protect your fruit trees from birds as they will happily eat windfalls on the ground but you could try planting a fruit tree just for your garden birds such as wild cherry, mulberry, holly or crabapple.

When planting trees make sure you choose species that are appropriate for your soil and climate. You can get plenty of advice from garden centres and nurseries about the best sort of trees for your garden. You also need to understand how big the tree will finally grow to and ensure that the mature tree will not block too much sunlight, or disrupt building foundations.

Choose a mixture of broadleaves, conifers and fruit trees of different heights, shapes and leaf colours so that they will give pleasure to both you and the birds who visit your garden.

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