Spotting something new can bring joy and elicit a smile, and with the pandemic still in full swing, people are looking for new hobbies to fill their time. Many are seeking a closer connection to nature and lockdown has either started or reignited their love for wildlife. The chirps and morning songs in the garden, once ignored as background noise, are now being noticed by those confined to their homes. With another spring indoors looming, birdwatching is booming – will you be welcoming some feathered friends into your garden?
For a long time, the image of a birdwatcher has been stereotyped as an older man brandishing binoculars and wearing one of those green waistcoats with an abundance of pockets. The truth is, anyone can be a birdwatcher: just sit quietly in your garden or watch from a window and observe your surroundings. From the familiar blackbird to the colourful goldfinch, birds are the most sighted of all British wildlife. These remarkable creatures occupy every continent in the world, from the icy polar regions to the tropics of the equator. There are around 250 different kinds of breeding birds in the UK – plus around 400 frequent or rare visitors.
There is nothing more stress-relieving than listening to the sweet sounds drifting through the garden and watching the antics of our curious companions as they forage for food. Observing wildlife can provide an intimate connection between you and your natural environment, and it is a Covid compliant way to enjoy yourself. As well as lifting your spirits, attracting birds will benefit your garden as they eat a variety of pesky insects including aphids and flies. Finches and sparrows also consume weed seeds, making them effective landscapers to help control unwanted plants. This reduces the need for chemical insecticides and weed killers, making your garden happier and healthier!
Step up your game by purchasing a bird feeder to attract new species to your garden. Foras has a wonderful selection to choose from! Our popular Aspen feeder is a classic bottle shape and is made of hand-blown glass, so each one is subtly unique. Our Douglas feeder, also hand blown, is a glamorous glass globe with a wide feeding area and a high seed volume, perfect for gardens with a high bird population. There is also the Hazel feeder, an unusual egg shape with two perches either side of the tray to encourage birds by providing various levels to rest. Finally, we have the lovely lantern shaped Larch and Rowen feeders which have removable lids, making cleaning a breeze. Our feeders are available in a wide range of vibrant colours so will work well with any garden scheme!
Birds are naturally curious, so if they see others feeding in your garden, they will soon join them. Keeping your feeders full will attract more species – mixed food is good to use as it attracts a variety of different birds. Many species including sparrows, finches and starlings prefer flavour mixes containing maize and millet. Although winter feeding is commonly thought to benefit birds the most, food shortages can occur at any time of the year and feeding continuously is immensely helpful to them. If you keep your feeders fully stocked all year, you will give your feathered friends a better chance of surviving and remaining healthy. Place your feeders around your garden at different heights and in safe locations – not too close to bushes where cats could lie in wait but near enough to cover so birds can fly to safety if startled. Make sure you clean your feeders regularly with warm soapy water to prevent nasty bacteria building up.
Birds are attracted by the sound of splashing water, so why not select one of our beautiful bird baths to go with your feeders. Birds need water for drinking and bathing, particularly in summer when it is dry and, in the winter, when natural supplies may be frozen. Having a safe water source can also attract and benefit other wildlife, such as butterflies and bumblebees, which are vital to support the whole ecosystem. Bees, in particular, are declining in numbers so preserving their population is massively important. As our chief native pollinators, they are vital to ensure a colourful garden and to the survival of many British wildflowers. Foras has a wide range of exclusive bird baths. Choose between the pretty, delicate Flight bowl and the deeper, elegant Acorn bowl – both are available in our signature sandstones and can be paired with a variety of plinths! From slate to oak to sandstone we have something or everyone. Each bowl is completely unique and has been carved from an individual block of sandstone. Adding a Pebble Perch will compliment your birdbath further by allowing smaller birds to access the water to bath, they are available in any of our vibrant pebble colours. Hang a feeder near your bird bath to draw new species to your garden and increase your chances of seeing something spectacular.
So, take up a new hobby this year and do some birdwatching! Forget about the worries of the world and the pressure of the pandemic. In lockdowns birds represent the ultimate freedom – the ability to fly away.