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Garden birdlife: Who can I hear singing?

13.02.2023 - Reading time: 6 minutes

The sounds of tweeting, cooing and cheeping are everywhere: The noises made by wild birds are an integral part of the background sounds of nature. So integral are these sounds that you’ve surely noticed immediately when, while outdoors, everything suddenly goes quiet, such as just before a storm.

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We instinctively understand silence as a sign of danger – something that indicates just how closely connected humans are to the local birdlife. And yet many German forest bird species lead an unseen life. They live such a hidden life that we generally hear them rather than see them. Even when it comes to more commonly seen and larger birds, little is generally known about them. Who today can still recognise a bird from its song without seeing it? Take a look around in the forest, park and garden: The hidden world of wild birds will amaze you.

Attract wild birds using food

If you would like to observe wild birds in your garden, you have a few simple options for attracting them with food and water. The idea that giving birds food makes them lazy has been proven wrong. The breeding and rearing periods are very energy intensive for the parent birds. The parents get the energy they need from feeding stations and feed captured protein-rich insects to their nestlings. A wide range of dried insects are available in order to help the parents in their search for insects for their babies. These should be blanched in hot water and then offered in small portions during the breeding period. The hot water makes them soft and easy to consume, while also preventing them from going bad too quickly. To be on the safe side, avoid putting out any bits of nuts or larger seeds such as sunflower seeds. Healthy chicks will spit unsuitable food back out – therefore the parents need to spent most of their time finding suitable food for their young.

Tip: Never put out unsuitable food such as bread, salty or sugary leftovers! Ensure to put out high quality feed. Premium producers offer bird feed that includes seeds with their shells already removed: This provides you with much better value for money, as the weight of the shells is not included in the product weight. Furthermore, seeds that have been deshelled help prevent birds from “redesigning the garden” from dropped seeds. When purchasing feed, ensure that it is ambrosia free.

If you provide your wild birds with a water dish, then ensure to clean the water source with hot water each day. Multiple water sources can reduce the bacterial load and not using one for a few days can help reduce the opportunities for infection and propagation.

From blackbirds to wrens: Which birds can I hear in my garden?

There is always some activity to be observed around feeding stations and bird baths, no matter the time of year. Here are some of the typical birds you might see, even in urban areas.

Amsel auf eisigem Gras

Blackbirds

Blackbirds are hard to miss, neither by sight or sound. You cannot miss these birds, with their deep black colour with orange beaks, as they perch on a branch and sing their distinctive song. The female has a more modest brown coloured set of feathers. Blackbirds are best observed after rainfall, when they can be seen hunting earthworms in the grass.

Ein Buntspecht

Spotted woodpecker

This black and white bird with a red feathered cape can be found anywhere with plenty of old trees. They are commonly found living in parks and cemeteries, but also in urban areas. The characteristic drumming noise they make as they seek out insect larvae under tree bark is unmistakeable. To spot them you will need a little of luck and a good eye: They spend much of their time in the thick tops of trees.

Elster frisst

Magpie

Magpies are also songbirds. Many people are in two minds about magpies. These large black and white, bright blue-green birds have a reputation for swiping shiny objects and plundering the nests of smaller birds. Magpies are usually found in larger groups: Their fascinating social interactions and uniquely incredible intelligence can be observed.

Vogel sitzt auf Blume

Finch

Greenfinch, chaffinch, goldfinch: How do you tell these small species apart? This is easy in the case of the goldfinch: The unusual colour of their feathers with a red face is very distinctive. Blue banding on the wings is characteristic of the chaffinch, and the yellow-green feathers of the greenfinch. All of them have a powerful beak that they use to break open seeds.

Roter Vogel auf Zweig

Bullfinch

You will need a bit of luck to catch sight of a bullfinch: This round-shaped, brown-grey bird, the male of which has a bright pink breast, doesn’t easily attract attention. This seed eating bird enjoys feeding from flowers that have finished blooming and eats berries with its powerful beak.

Vogel im Nest

Hedge sparrow

Often seen only by chance in the corner of your eye, and often mistaken for a mouse whizzing past: The hedge sparrow is a master of camouflage, hiding itself in bushes or between tall plants. There they search for small beetles, other insects, worms and snails.

Zwei Meisen sitzen auf einem Napf.

Great tit, blue tit, long-tailed tit

Tits are among the most well-known wild bird species. These compact, social birds are not fearful of humans and recognise the benefits of fat balls and nesting aids. This makes them a popular visitor to your garden throughout the year.

Taube sitzt in Blumen

Wood pigeon

These fine grey coloured animals with a white collar appear to have slightly odd proportions with their short legs and comparatively large head. The wild relative of the common pigeon that is found in all urban areas, these large native songbirds can be very docile creatures.

Rotkehlchen auf Ast

Robin redbreast

Robins, with their famous red bib, is a very conspicuous representative of the native birdlife and enchants with its melodic song. Robins primarily feed on insects and other animals. Robins are also highly territorial, meaning they don’t tend to get along well with other birds.

Vogel steht

Sparrow

Whether house sparrow or tree sparrow: The population of common sparrows has been falling for many years. These small brown-grey birds are always found in groups and have a characteristic fearlessness that almost borders on being outright cheeky. Unfortunately they are finding it increasingly difficult to find suitable breeding spaces and insects for feeding their young.

Zwei Vogel sitzen auf einem Ast.

Starling

Dark feathers with a beautiful shine and an impressive talent for singing: Every garden needs starlings. This sociable bird can even imitate voices and enjoys a diet of fruits and berries.

Vogel steht auf Stein

Wren

Blaring out its song from their high vantage point, this small round-shaped brown bird is the king of his territory. Wrens are easily recognised by their small upward pointing tail.

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