As urban areas become more and more built up, birds and wildlife are increasingly being forced out of their natural habitat. Gardeners can do much to alleviate the plight of birds by putting some thought into planning a garden that will make their feathered friends feel at home. This need not be complicated, and certainly need not be costly, as even a small bird-friendly spot in an urban garden can be a life-sustaining oasis that will more than reward the gardener for his, or her, efforts.
In planning a bird-friendly garden there are a number of points to bear in mind, one of the most important being to provide a clean source of water in a spot where birds have an easy escape route should they be disturbed by a predator, such as the neighborhood tabby. Recent statistics published by the RSPB noted that it is conservatively estimated that cats in the United Kingdom catch up to 55 million birds each year, with the most frequent victims being house sparrows, blue tits, blackbirds and starlings. A birdbath on a stand, placed beneath a tree, allows birds a view of their surroundings while they splash in the water, while giving them a quick escape route into overhanging branches should they feel threatened. Spiny and prickly plants such as holly can be grown around and beneath feeders and bird baths to discouraged cats from lurking there. Ensure that the bird bath is free of algae and filled with fresh water.
When choosing what to plant in your bird-friendly garden, it is best to go indigenous, as this will provide local birds with what they need, when they need it. Of course, birds are very adaptable and will make use of exotic plants as well, if it suits their needs. A good garden center in your area should be able to advise you on what to plant to attract birds, and a mix of indigenous and exotic plants can work well. Give consideration to including plants to provide food such as seeds, nuts, fruit and berries in all seasons, nesting materials and shelter. Food can always be supplemented with strategically placed feeders and nesting boxes are often welcome.
It should go without saying that pesticides should never be used in a bird-friendly garden. Given enough time, nature will take care of its own pests, and until ecological balance is reached, gardeners may need to put some extra effort into controlling pests organically and removing them by hand. Birds are great at keeping creepy-crawlies in check, so invite them into your garden and enjoy their company, while they enjoy the safe haven you have provided.