We have compiled a list of the most frequently asked garden birding questions that we at Elaine’s Birding and Wildlife Products are often asked:
1. Our most popular question – How do I attract birds to my garden?
No matter where you live, you are bound to be able to attract birds to your garden. There are approximately 850 different bird species in South Africa alone – so no excuses, you can attract birds but you will need to do a couple of things first:
- You need to feed the birds – I don’t mean to be “captain obvious” here, but feeding the birds is a must if you are hoping to regularly attract a variety of bird life. By putting out seed, fruit, meal-worms and suet you can be sure that the birds will flock to your garden.
- Water – regular fresh water will encourage birds to drink and bathe in your bird bath.
- Keep ‘em safe – cats and dogs will scare off your birds, try to position bird feeders and baths high enough/away from your animals to ensure that the birds won’t feel too threatened when coming to your garden.
- Nesting – this is not a necessity to attract birds, but who doesn’t love watching a pair of birds nesting in their garden. Keep gardens “bird friendly” with indigenous trees and bushes. There are also a lot of nesting products for sale such as sisal nesting logs to encourage the birds to nest.
2. How do I get rid of Pigeons and Mynas?
Firstly, you are not “doing your part for society” by shooting these birds. There are thousands upon thousands of them and it would be nearly impossible to eradicate them. Also, it is both cruel (as most often than not the birds are not killed when shot, they get injured and end up suffering ) as well as illegal to fire a firearm in an urban area.
So what can be done?
- Try to keep your garden clean as Mynas enjoy discarded human food, this may help to reduce the number of them.
- Try find the areas where the Pigeons and Mynas are nesting and remove their nests before they lay eggs.
- We have designed feeders that are Pigeon proof and we have found that the number of Pigeons can be dramatically reduced with these feeders.
- Setting up spikes where Pigeons sit have also helped with the numbers.
3. Can I use poisons and pesticides?
We know that snails and other bugs are a nuisance, especially for those of us that take pride in our gardens. However, you should not use pesticides to kill these insects as they are an important food source for birds, especially Hadedas and Hoopoes. When you poison these insects you will most likely end up poisoning a bird. Let nature take its course and rather let the birds clean up the bugs, (another reason to encourage birds to your garden).
Rats! Just the word freaks people out. We have developed a special ingredient that deters rats from our bird food without harming or deterring the birds. If you have a rat problem, please do not poison the rats, it can cause harm to your cats and dogs. It can also poison owls, (that are already scarce) when they consume a poisoned rat which can result in death.
So Please Do Not Poison Rats and Insects!
4. How do I stop birds from flying into my windows?
Most of us have this problem. Reducing the number of birds flying into windows can be achieved by applying a decal to the glass that will make the window more visible. However, this problem may never be completely resolved.
5. Which bird feeders should I choose to attract certain birds?
All of the below products are manufactured by Elaine’s Birding & Wildlife Products – for a full list of the products see Products Page.
Suet Slab and Suet Ball Holder: Birds can hang/perch easily on these feeders. You can attract the following birds with suet and these feeders: Barbets, Green Hoopoes, Bulbuls, Weavers, Sparrows, Robins, Thrushes, Red Wing and Cape Glossy Starlings, Shrikes, Babblers and Hornbills just to name a few. You can enjoy watching their unique feeding patterns throughout the day.
Pudding Feeder: It is easy for birds to perch and eat off. It attracts all of the above mentioned, and is especially favoured by Bulbuls and Robin Chats
Bird Seed Tower:This feeder keeps the seed dry the Pigeons away and the smaller birds happy. It attracts seed eaters, sparrows, weavers, manicans and many more.
Nectar Feeder: Birds go mad for this feeder, it is easily perched on and keeps the Pigeons off . It attracts most birds, to name a few: Sun Birds, Cape White Eyes, Bulbuls, Barbets, Weavers, Mousebirds and Sparrows.
Orange Feeder: Fruit eaters love this feeder. It attracts Mousebirds, Weavers, Sparrows, Barbets, Wood Hoopoes and many many more.
6. What do I do when I find an injured or baby bird?
Unlike some human beings, birds, at a certain age will leave the nest – their parents will feed them from the ground whilst they are learning to fly and fend for themselves.This is the stage when we humans think that the birds are in need of our assistance and we simply pick ‘em up, put ‘em in a box and PRESTO! A new pet.
Please stop doing this if you are one of these people, these birds are going through the natural process of learning to fly and find food. If there is a baby bird that is too young to fly (it does not have lots of feathers) pick it up and look around for its nest. Its nest will often be close and you can simply put it back. Urban myth: you can’t pick up a baby bird because its mother will smell you and reject the chick –birds will not reject their chicks if your smell is on them.
There are times when you find a baby bird with no parents or nest in sight with predators around. When this happens, keep the baby bird warm and contact a bird rehabilitation centre. You are welcome to contact Elaine’s Birding and we will refer you to one. Please do not attempt to hand-rear the bird, as you often do not know their diets, quantities of food, etc. These birds are not meant to live in cages; they are meant to be reintroduced back into the wild, therefore our interaction with them should be minimal.
If you find an injured bird please contact a bird/animal rehabilitation centre or contact Elaine’s Birding and we will direct you to one.
7. How do I get the birds to nest in my garden?
The first thing you can do if you have the space is to plant lots of indigenous plants and shrubs. The next most popular way to get birds to nest in your garden is to use a sisal nesting log. These work very well to attract the birds to nest. They can be hung up at any time during the year, we advise you to put them up in winter as the birds will have time to get accustomed to them for breeding time in spring. We have also designed our nesting logs with protective caps to help them last longer.
Ensure that the nesting log’s hole/opening is in the opposite direction and is protected from the rain as this increases your chance of nesting birds.
Ensure that if a bird has built a nest or shows interest in your nesting logs/boxes that you do not disturb them. Observe the birds from a distance to ensure that they feel that their nesting position is safe and secure. Birds also like to nest close to accesible food and water so ensure that you mainain a continuous flow of water and food for the birds.
We also supply a bird nesting bag which offers the birds clean feathers for insulation for their nests.
8. Can I harm birds by over feeding?
It is always good to feed the birds all year round, however in winter, it is a good idea to give a little extra to them as it’s harder for them to find food. Birds are not like Labradors that will eat until they cannot move… AND THEN EAT SOME MORE! Birds will eat until full and then move on. Putting out too much food will simply result in wasted food and an increase in nuisance birds such as Pigeons. Remember, if you are routinely feeding the birds, you will start to attract more birds resulting in having to give them more food.
9. When should we feed the birds?
Birds should be fed all year round – We have written an informative blog: “When To Feed The Birds” , which helps answer this question.
10. How important is water?
Fresh clean water is an absolute must! Please give the birds fresh water daily, and ensure that their bird baths and drinking feeders are clean. Birds need water to drink and to bathe in to help them keep their feathers in good condition.