I so much enjoy the birds that come into our garden. They bring colour, noise, charm. The garden would be empty without them.
Garden birds are invariably timid though, so the best way of coaxing them to settle where we can see them is with bird feeders and water. This is also good for the birds of course, so it’s a win win.
However, as is increasingly the case with so many of life’s pleasures, its no longer as simple as ‘feed the birds’. With the rise of diseases like trichomoniasis it may mean using your bird feeder less. The RSPB advice is to clean bird feeders frequently and if you see any sick birds (lethargic, fluffed up feathers, esp greenfinches) then remove the feeders for a while so that the healthy birds aren’t congregating with the infected birds. A couple of weeks should be fine.
At least as important though is to make your garden as naturally bird friendly as possible. The choice of plants, the design of the garden and the way you maintain it can make a huge difference to the bird life. The best bird gardens have readily available water and a wide range of food all year (seed heads for finches, undergrowth for dunnocks and rotting wood for great tits and other hole nesting birds). And herbaceous plants are not cut back until late winter, which means at this time of year seed heads like Phlomis look stunning.