One of the best actions I took to attract and support garden birds when I first moved to my current house over 20 years ago was to establish several small trees in the garden. Not just any trees I tried to ensure that as far as I could I used native species that I thought would be most beneficial for the birds I hoped to attract. Most gardens will support at least one small tree and many, even newer properties where space may be at more of a premium, have the space for more than one. I frequently read posts on bird-related groups such as GardenBird VIP asking what trees are suitable for birds in a garden so I thought I’d share some of my sightings and how they relate to the trees I planted.
I guess I’m lucky enough to have had the space for several trees so in no particular order I managed to squeeze in a Hazel, two Mallows, two Willows, two Rowans, one Sycamore and a Silver Birch.
Twenty years after planting most of these are mature and doing the job I hoped they would. The garden is a much shadier and less open place than it was originally and with the open central lawn surrounded by trees is similar to woodland edge habitat that can be so productive in the wild.
From the list above the Silver Birch stands out as a real favourite, now as tall as the house I always take satisfaction when casual glances from the bedrooms reveal feeding finches, Redpolls, Siskins and Bullfinches all love to graze on the Birch seed providing eye-level views. When Spring comes and the Chiffchaffs return in April it will inevitably be the Birch that they’ll pick through in search of insects. This year I watched over several days as two adults that had built a nest just beyond the garden boundaries made repeated visits, perhaps 20/hour to the birch gathering food to feed their young.
I love the Rowans too, smaller they remind me of time spent in the hills. They too provide food in the form of their attractive orange-red berries for Blackbirds and Bullfinches. The berries never last long and are stripped by the end of September but watching the Blackbirds plucking berries to gorge on for a few weeks is fantastic reward.
If you enjoy feeding your birds find the space for a tree if you can and eventually you too can benefit from the free food they provide.
Our Garden Birder’s Diary is written by Northumberland-based birder Alan Tilmouth who has been birdwatching for over 30 years and writing about birds in various guises for the last decade. A keen garden birdwatcher, he also manages to unearth the odd rare bird on his travels. You can find Alan on Twitter and his Facebook blog.