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Why is my garden birdless?

(17 Posts)
adlertippa Tue 25-Apr-17 11:38:13

Hello all,

I live in a terraced house in the middle of a northern city. We have a small front and back yard, both quite shaded. The back yard is overshadowed by next doors huge eucalyptus tree which is lovely but blocks the light, kills any attempts at a little lawn and covers everything with leaves. We grow bits and pieces and there's plenty of slugs and snails around.

I moved from half a mile away where I had a flat with a huge communal garden that was full of birds, I used to put fat balls out on my third floor windowsill and get loads of tits up there. When I moved here I hung a bag of seed on the washing line and... absolutely nothing. I don't think I've ever seen a bird in our back yard! It's almost weird. I think there's the odd one in the eucalyptus tree but don't think I've ever seen a blue tit or even a sparrow. Just the odd pigeon.

I kind of thought that there were birds everywhere, most of the terraces have some back garden so it's not a concrete desert. There's a park close by so maybe they just stay there? Or are scared off by all the alley cats? I don't know whether to try different bird feeders to attract some or if it's a lost cause.

Anyway, not exactly a gardening emergency but I'd be curious to know if anyone knows more about city birds and has insight.

scaryclown Tue 25-Apr-17 11:42:30

Get them used to a nearby area first maybe?

Suet is a good thing to put out as it looks a bit wormy

JT05 Tue 25-Apr-17 11:42:41

Birds like quite a lot of green coverage, to hop into for safety. Low lying bushes don't really off enough. They will be in the eucalyptus, but might have nowhere to hop to from there.
Larger bushes or a hedge might be the answer.

JT05 Tue 25-Apr-17 11:43:03

Offer* not off!

TondelayaDellaVentamiglia Tue 25-Apr-17 11:43:53

we have loads here....when we first arrived no one put feeders out, but I did and we were inundated with all sort of birds, then they all copied me.
...very small community of about a dozen houses

before when we lived in the middle of nowhere I had a couple of attempts and no joy at all...I just presumed there was enough "wild" food out there for them.

not sure about city birds and gardens! I do know ours can be fussy and have been known to ignore certain types of seed, so maybe it's that?

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Tue 25-Apr-17 11:45:02

Are there cats around?

MistyMinge Tue 25-Apr-17 11:48:06

We don't get that many birds in our garden. It's because there are so many cats about. Do you or your neighbours have cats?

PurpleMadness Tue 25-Apr-17 11:49:14

Watching with interest. Have a similar problem. Cannot think what the reason is. Put out mealworms and Niger seeds as well as fat balls. Can only think there is a feeding station nearby but I would've thought that would encourage more birds generally.

kingfisherblue33 Tue 25-Apr-17 11:54:06

Agree with pps - if you hang bird feeders in or near a tree, so birds have cover, they are happier. Are there many cats near you?

Other things you can do to make your garden wildlife friendly: have a water featrure/bird bath for birds to drink out of. Leave leave son the ground so they can peck through leaves and find insects. Grow insect-friendly plants. Put up a nest box.

Generally, though, birds are declining: www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/dec/09/decline-uk-countryside-birds and
www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/dec/09/decline-uk-countryside-birds

kingfisherblue33 Tue 25-Apr-17 11:54:24

Oops - www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/wildlife/11204029/Garden-birds-in-alarming-decline.html

GingerKitCat Tue 25-Apr-17 11:55:44

I'm no expert, I'd be interested to know too!

I had a similar absence of birdlife in my SE suburban terraced garden. Despite being surrounded by gardens (many not particularly tended but with lawns, trees and overgrown 'habitat' that I presumed would appeal).

Things that have helped include covering the fences with climbers (mix of evergreen and deciduous) and bushy things like buddleia and ivy for birds to hide in; planting to attract bees and insects; installing a small wildlife pond (plastic container sunk into ground).

Is the eucalyptus overhanging your garden? Is it too big for the space? Could you negotiate with your neighbour to thin it out/ open it up a bit/ remove some of the lower branches to let some light through? Not sure how feasible this is without seeing a pic. Eucalyptus grow tall! grin

GingerKitCat Tue 25-Apr-17 12:12:20

Re. feeding there are 4 cats in the immediate vicinity (one of them mine wink) so I prefer to hide my bird feeders in a laburnum tree as high up as possible. This gives the birds a bit of cover and stops the cats harassing them. Do you have a eucalyptus branch you can utilise? Some of mine are suspended on a rope slung over a high branch so I can winch the feeders down to refill grin

I've noticed the birds prefer my feeders to neighbours' who have those 5ft pole feeding stations or hang feeders on the washing line. In fact I never see birds on theirs...

I try to put a selection of different feeders out - fat balls, nyger seed and mealworms for example. Peanuts and regular seed not as popular here... It wasn't until I multiplied my feeders from one to at least three (in the same area) that I began to attract birds. I also scatter crusts etc on the lawn for the wood pigeons and blackbirds despite the cats. I was hesitant but so far so good (2yrs in). Thankfully the small birds stay in the trees.

I have a bird table next to the laburnum and hedge but the birds completely ignore it!

adlertippa Tue 25-Apr-17 14:05:02

Thanks for all the responses! We do have two cats, plus a fluctuating population of alley cats that we feed and rehome (they found the house of softie veggies! Currently have baby Radish sleeping in a box by the back steps while we find her a home). So it might be just that the birds are being sensible and I shouldn't put them at risk by luring them in...

I might try a high rise feeder over a branch of the eucalyptus tree. TBH it's unreasonably big and our garden would be much nicer without it, but we rent while they own, and they're very chill neighbours so don't want to risk discord. I guess at least it's providing somewhere for the few birds to sit! And the leaves make a nice rustling noise in the wind.

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Tue 25-Apr-17 14:14:20

If you've got cats and feed cats that will be why. Don't invite the birds in. They'll get attacked and that's sad.

GingerKitCat Tue 25-Apr-17 14:34:41

I'd agree Moving but our cats and birds happily coexist. My main trick is to have the feeders at least 8ft high, away from cat thoroughfares such as fences/ walls/ anything climbable (none of them bother going up the trees fortunately or I'd move the feeders pronto). The foliage helps disguise them too.

The local cats are all hunters (including two inquisitive Bengals) - mice are a different matter...

adlertippa Tue 25-Apr-17 18:14:27

My cats didn't go out for a year when I first moved here, and the feral cat hotel didn't really start until last summer either, so it was a birdfree zone even before the cat fest. But I do see that it might not be the best idea to lure birds to anywhere below a few metres off the ground!

Draylon Thu 27-Apr-17 14:05:02

We had loads of birds here (DH keenly fed them) til I had to home 3 cats for 7 months. DH stopped encouraging the birds, for obvious reasons, but once the cats had gone, the birds returned happily.

Interestingly my last 2 houses couldn't attract birds. One was a bungalow with a huge garden opening onto a field but there was a rookery in the trees on the far side of the field, so we'd get crows and pigeons in the garden. DH reckoned the small birds came in early to feed so I rarely saw them wink, and there weren't many during the day; the next house was on the same estate as this one we're in now, but it had a small surrounded garden and possibly quite a few cats around; whereas here we have a 12 x 15m back garden and we're the end house before a shrubbery strip, a road and a large bit of ancient growth woodland; so we still get the odd crow and magpie, certainly the pigeons, a woodpecker, but loads of smaller birds as well, unless a cruising buzzard puts the wind up them!

There seems no rhyme nor reason. DH assiduously fed the birds at all 3 houses.

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