With spring nearly over and summer arriving in the garden around your summerhouse, the weather is warming up nicely and while spending more time outside and in the garden, you will probably have noticed a lot of bird activity. During the relatively short period of warmer weather birds need to raise their young, and eat as much as they can in order to prepare for the exhausting business of raising their offspring. Some species need everything done in time for their migration back into the south when the winter comes again.
Numbers of songbirds have decreased dramatically in recent years because of man made environmental destruction and poisoning. But we do not need to watch them go helplessly. There are many things, everyone of us – especially those who own a garden or a yard – can do to help the little winged ones. In the following article we have collected the 10 most efficient things that you can do in the garden around your summerhouse to help the birds.
1. Bird tape on the windows of your summerhouse will prevent birds from hitting your windows
Of course this not only applies to windows at the summerhouse but also at the main house. Estimations are that as many as one billion birds die from colliding with glass each year. Bird tape is a simple, inexpensive and long lasting solution that is proven to be effective in buildings. Not only species living in populated areas fall victim but also rare and threatened species. Especially Wood Thrush and Ruby-throated Hummingbird are among the most frequent victims to untreated windows. Many birds don´t die at once from the consequences of the collision, but some time later because of serious internal injuries. Victims are often taken away rapidly from below the windows by craws, cats or martens, so humans often stay unaware of the scope of the problem.
2. Pesticides in the garden around your summerhouse are lethal for birds
If you happen to have pesticides or herbicides in your summerhouse to be used in your garden, please inform yourself about organic gardening. Allowing natural areas in your garden, mulching, and mixed cultivation in small diverse beds can help establishing a natural balance. After some time an ecosystem of thousands of species will be established which will make the use of pesticides superfluous on the long run. Add a little tolerance and laid-back attitude to it and you will start growing healthier veggies for you and your family and help the birds at the same time. Not every caterpillar nibbling from your cabbage has to be killed immediately. there will be enough to eat for everybody.
Organic gardening around your summerhouse will make your garden more natural, more diverse and more entertaining.
Although many pesticides are not directly toxic to birds, they lead to the extinguishing of many bird species. In an organic garden the caterpillar nibbling on the cabbage will be eaten by a bird. So everybody can be happy. Using pesticides leads to widespread intoxication and dying not only for pests but all around the insect world in the garden. These sick or dying insects are those being eaten by birds first, because they are easier to catch. As a consequence pesticides accumulate in birds. They get an overdose of pesticide which can for example lead to their eggs becoming so fragile that they crack during breeding. Not to speak about the fact that there will be much less birds in your garden because birds are attracted not only by seeds from wild species but also by a wide variety of insects and caterpillars.
For rodent control around the summerhouse, seal cracks, and use live traps, so you can transport the animals far away from your house and set them free in a forest area. Rodenticides can poison hawks, owls, cats and other natural predators.
Also avoid neonicotinoid-coated seeds or neonics, which are lethal to songbirds as well as to bees. Even pesticides and herbicides labelled as “safe” are far from that. We have poisons all around us; we eat them with food from the supermarket every day, and we should simply not add to that by buying more poisons and spreading them in our gardens.
3. A natural habitat around your summerhouse helps nature regulate itself and birds profit from that
Using plants that also grow naturally in the garden at the summerhouse will supply local insects, and they and their larvae are an irreplaceable food source for the birds and their nestlings. Yards and gardens of all sizes can benefit birds and local species. Creating a diverse landscape of native plants will also protect your vegetable garden by giving home to a small local ecosystem that will balance out all the populations, so called pests included. Mulching helps to spread that balance into the area at the summerhouse reserved as vegetable or fruit garden. A diverse, lush yard is a nice view, and the beauty and song of the birds will be a wonderful reward for you!
Moreover you could try not to trim your trees until fall or early spring so you don’t interfere with nesting birds. A little wilderness in your garden will also provide the birds with nesting materials from early spring through summer.
Dead trees and branches can give home for cavity nesters, and bundling up some tree and plant debris and leaving it in nooks in your yard can provide a location for nests. Filling mesh bags with materials suitable for nest building, and fix them at the summerhouse under the eaves or branches of trees can be a help. Some species will use boards to build their nests on that you can attach to the wall of your summerhouse below the eaves.
4. Bird houses at the summerhouse are a great help for many species of cavity nesters
Bird houses have to be cleaned out in early spring, and hung back on the trees or on the wall of the summerhouse. By the diameter of the entrance you will decide which species you want to move in. Providing enough space is also important. You will find construction plans in the internet.
Cleaning up the bird houses in fall in order to remove parasites, and “refurnishing” them with clean material for winter is another great idea. Birds love to snuggle down into some dried grass or other dry materials during a cold winter night. Suitable materials are wood shavings, clean dry meadow grass or hay. However, sawdust is not suitable because it can retain moisture.
If your bird houses have air vent holes which are very welcome during a scorching summer day, you might want to seal them with clay or any suitable material during the winter.
5. Bird feeders and bird baths at the summerhouse need to be cleaned regularly
Helping the birds around your summerhouse with bird feeders is very valuable all year round, not only in winter, but they have to be checked regularly for moisture or mould, and they have to be cleaned from time to time to prevent the spread of disease. The same is true for bird baths, and the water must be changed regularly; or use a drip system or a system with flowing water to prevent mosquitoes from breeding. An occasional scrub and refreshing of the water will give the birds fresh, clean bathing and drinking water, and thus improve their quality of life largely.
6. Baby birds on the ground must not be disturbed
Fledgelings are encouraged out of the nest, when they need to learn how to fly. Their parents will take care of them. and teach them what they need to learn. Often times they continue feeding while the little ones are on the ground. Even if they are sitting on the ground around the summerhouse, and seem to be helpless, remember it might just be you watching who is preventing the shy parent birds to help them.
The best advice would be not to disturb these baby birds, however, if you need to rescue one from obvious danger, as for example a cat, you may move it temporarily, but it needs to be returned to a place near to where it was found. They might need up to several days before they can fly well.
7. Inform your neighbours about the usefulness of birds around the summerhouse
As in general with summerhouses, and of course generally, it is recommendable to keep a good relationship to your neighbours, and inform them about the benefits of having a rich bird life around the house.
Homeowners often react uninformed when nests appear in porch lights, eaves and garages, and they sometimes knock these nests down because their uninvited guest are considered not welcome. or are even perceived as “pests”. They should be aware that the birds living in these nests will be gone in just a few short weeks, and they will eat hundreds of insects every day while they are around, including mosquitoes and insects eating his fruits and veggies. However it is a good idea to remove the nests to discourage parasites once it is sure that the birds are finally gone.
8. Turn off your outdoor lights at the house and at the summerhouse
Letting the light at the summerhouse on all night is not necessary in many cases. If you think of it as a matter of safety, then a motion detector adjusted to react to large bodies will serve to switch the lights on in case of an intruder at the summerhouse. Lights can interfere with night-flying birds, especially during migration which will then pose a serious thread to them. If you really need to keep a light on all night, then use blue or green LED lights that can’t be seen well from far away.
9. Energy saving is as an important way to help birds as a general environment friendly attitude
Reducing your carbon footprint will help all wildlife including birds. All kinds of energy production are hazardous to the environment and for birds in one way or the other. Be it nuclear or wind turbines which can kill birds directly or power lines: all forms of energy use impact birds and less energy consumption means less habitat destroyed for energy production.
Buying organic food and helping bees by planting local honey plants, reducing pesticide use and saving energy: a general conscious earth-friendly live-style will make a difference also for the birds.
10. Join nature conservation – or especially bird conservation groups
Or, if there are no branches or members in your area: set up a new branch! They will have detailed advice about what you can do in the area surrounding your summerhouse to help birds, bees, and other animals and plants and at the same time enjoy a ecological organic garden with all the healthy and tasty nutrients that you will be able to grow there. Let the birds do your pest control. They are experts in this trade and they will do a fantastic job, and in doing so enjoy you with their activities and songs.