Shrubs For Birds
Of all the plants you may choose to have in a bird friendly garden, a selection of shrubs, hedges and bushes is probably the most important.
Although it would be ideal to have a lot of trees in a garden to attract birds, shrubs and hedges are good alternatives. They mature faster than trees, require less maintenance and take up less room than most full-sized trees so are usually better for smaller gardens.
A mix of shrubs can help birds in a number of ways by providing food, water, shelter and somewhere to nest.
Shrubs may produce berries, fruits and seeds that birds can eat as well as provide a home for insects, spiders and grubs that insectivorous birds, such as starlings and swallows, will feast on.
After wet weather, water will collect in the larger leaves of bushes that birds can drink from. They may even rub themselves against damp leaves for an improvised bath.
Dense shrubs will provide shelter for garden birds particularly shy birds such as wrens. Thorny shrubs are ideal for somewhere for birds to escape to from predators such as cats and squirrels. In summer shrubs are good for providing a shady place for birds to keep cool, and in winter evergreen shrubs will provide somewhere warm and dry.
Many birds will make their nests in shrubs including dunnocks, finches, blackbirds and long-tailed tits. Thick, thorny shrubs will provide somewhere secure for them to build their nest and hard for predators to access. If you think that you have birds nesting in shrubs in your garden, take care not to disturb them and don’t prune your shrubs until you are sure the breeding season is over.
When deciding which shrubs to plant for the birds in your garden there are a number of things you should think about.
Ideally you should have mainly native shrubs in your garden but a few non-native shrubs such as buddleia or Pyracantha will also provide for the needs of your garden birds. Choose a mix of evergreen and deciduous shrubs and shrubs that will grow to different sizes and heights as well as those that will provide food as well as shelter.
Make sure they will thrive in the soil in your garden as well as the level of sunlight and find out about how much care they will need to flourish. Before you plant your shrubs it is useful to draw a rough diagram of what your garden will look like once the shrubs have come to maturity. You do not want your garden overgrown and you want to leave space for flowers and other smaller plants.