Specially designed habitats ‘more likely to attract birds’

Specially designed habitats are more likely to draw in birds than traditional, organic methods.

Research from the University of Southampton on threatened farmland birds looked at a number of agricultural operations where farmers were required to set up wildlife habitats. It found the three operating under a 'conservation grader' approach had higher survival rates than the rest.

Dominic Harrison, a researcher on the project, said: "A strong link was found between the number of specially-designed habitats created and the richness of bird species found.

"This indicates that the deciding factor is not the method of farming, as organic farms don't provide significant benefits to overwintering birds."

So what does this mean for your humble garden? The university's research suggests designing the spaces yourself has a more beneficial effect than simply letting the wilderness grow back, which is good news for any green-fingered enthusiast. As long as you know the preferred plants and conditions of the species you are after, it should not prove too difficult to draw them in.

Head of conservation delivery at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Darren Moorcroft said: "There's no doubt the more specific the approach, the better the results."

Of course, it is not always birds you want to attract. If you're a keen fan of bugs, which can often be useful for composting or sustaining the larger visitors to the garden, then there is a similar recipe for success which complements the previous findings.

Staff at Saddington Reservoir in Leicestershire have created a 'bug hotel' using dead twigs and foliage to provide shelter and protection from the weather. Yet it is still made from dead wood and discarded cuttings, something you may have plenty of the next time you trim your hedge.

The Greenworks 24v Long Reach Cordless Hedge Trimmer is ideal for this purpose, with plenty of flexibility to access the higher trees and plants. This will provide you with plenty of off-cuts and leftovers to make your own bug paradise.

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