The Soothing Benefits of Birdsong in the Garden - Squire's Garden Centres

The Soothing Benefits of Birdsong in the Garden

The sound of birdsong throughout the mornings in spring – “The Dawn Chorus” – is a welcome sound, signalling the start of a new day, a new season of life, and renewal following the previous winter. It’s the male birds that typically sing the most, using their lovely complex songs to signal to other males this is their territory, and to woo a mate. Females do sing too, but usually more quietly and not as often. Birdsongs are delightful and melodious tunes, and everyone enjoys hearing them, but better still did you know that it is very good for our mental wellbeing? Listening to the pleasant chorus gives us joy while having the effect of reducing feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. But how does it have this effect on us?

The Direct Effects of Birdsong on Us

Various scientific studies have shown that birdsongs alleviate anxiety, paranoia, and stress, in healthy participants. And the average mental wellbeing scores increased when participants saw or heard birds, including those clinically diagnosed with depressed. Further still, the beneficial effects last much longer than the initial moment of encountering the birds.

A study specifically led by academics from King’s College London, also found that everyday encounters with birds boosted the mood of people with depression, as well as the wider population. The study also found that visits to places with a wealth of birdlife, such as parks and canals, could be prescribed by doctors to treat mental health conditions as the natural sounds have calming and restorative effects, compared to the hustle and bustle of urban living.

Why is Birdsong so Relaxing to Us?

The cacophony of birdsong during The Dawn Chorus is a jumble of different birds singing and yet somehow it blends together creating a wonderful melody that brings us joy and happiness, centring us in the moment just listening intently. But why do we enjoy it, exactly? There are two reasons for this.

The first is a deeply embedded psychological safety signal. Birds feel most settled in their territory in the morning. This is thought to be because at dawn its harder for predators to see them with the light level, and so the birds feel more settled and safer to sing their songs. Birds won’t sing if there’s a predator around of if they feel threatened. Our ancestors were more connected to nature and registered this as a safe time for them too. This association continues in our subconscious and as a result we feel pleased and calm when we hear our native songbirds singing away.

The second and more recent thoughts is the similarities with human capacity for speech thus feeling somewhat familiar in our brains. Birdsong shares similarities in its structure that is reminiscent of human speech sound.  The way birds learn their songs too parallels the way we humans learn language. For instance, the way we use syllables and process certain sounds in a rhythmic way, birds can learn variations or new songs by hearing other birds in a similar way, creating new “accent”, or “dialects”. Additionally younger birds learn birdsong by listening to older birds and trying it themselves, just like baby humans. The familiarity – albeit a subconscious one – makes us feel calm, and happy to hear the birdsong.

How to Attract More Birds to the Garden?

If you would like to attract more songbirds to the garden there are a few things you can do.

Plant more Native Trees and Shrubs

Those conifers – cyprus, leylandii, thuja – look nice in the garden, but our native birds don’t get much from them because they’re not native trees. Because of that they aren’t attracted to them. It makes sense when you start to break it down, our garden birds have evolved alongside our native trees and shrubs over many thousands of years, which makes them instinctively conditioned to seek them out for food: many of the native trees have seeds, berries or fruits, even nectar that the birds will eat and attract the type of insects they want too. In terms of shelter, they usually nest in a safe spot where there’s a plentiful supply of foods they need which reinforces the need for native trees and shrubs even more.

Some examples include the rowan tree, which produces berries in late summer/autumn that birds love. Cotoneaster will also produce small red berries on its branches, sunflowers will make a plentiful number of seeds too packed in their centres, and shrub roses produce rose hips of varying sizes that many bird species will eat. Crap apple trees are another great choice, as are cherry trees, holly, and honeysuckle and viburnum to name a few more. Put some of these in the garden and you’ll find more birds visiting for sure.

Provide Bird Food

Putting out supplementary food like seeds, mealworms, and suet will help to attract more birds. Knowing there’s a plentiful food supply helps with their calorie intake – birds must practically eat all day everyday – so knowing there’s a good food supply in the garden will keep them close, and helps during the breeding season too over the spring and summer months.

Provide Water

Birds will need fresh clean water too, so they can drink and bathe. You can buy a made-for-purpose bird bath or repurpose a dinner plate or shallow bowl for a while. Any plant trays going spare would also work. Just keep it clean and give them fresh water each day. You might find them visiting sooner providing water especially during hotter periods in the summer. When there’s water and food in an area it’s an even stronger pull for the songbirds. 

Provide a Nesting Area

Birds need shelter and places to build a nest. Put up birdhouses or boxes in your garden or provide birds with natural materials such as twigs and leaves so they can build nests of their own. If opting for boxes, keep in mind that some birds prefer different types. For instance, robins would prefer open nest boxes that are placed low to the ground hidden by a hedge, shrub, or plants. Small-holed nest boxes would be suitable for a range of small birds such as tits. Thick bushes and evergreen trees can also offer good places for them to nest on their own so if going down the native planting route keep this in mind.

When attracting birds to the garden is your aim, native trees and plants, a nice nest location with a nearby source of food and water is just too good to resist!

Common Songbirds and How to Attract Them

There are over 600 species of birds in the UK, but here are some of the most common species of songbirds you’ll be able to attract more to the garden and tips how. Making the garden more wildlife friendly and providing food and water will generally help bring a variety of birds. But if you’re interested in particular species here are some extra tips:


Robins like to eat from the ground as their natural behaviour is to forage around, and they love insects, worms, and sunflower seeds. Adding hedging plants, holly trees, blueberries, and honeysuckle, to the garden would be good choices for nesting and berries.


Blackbirds will be enticed more by suet and insects but will eat a variety of things. They like to eat from the ground too as their natural behaviour is to forage around; it wouldn’t be the first time a bark border was strewn everywhere by a visiting blackbird or two! They like similar plants as robins; hawthorn is another great choice.

Song Thrush

Thrush’s love dense cover so hedging type plants and vigorous growers are great for them. They love eating slugs and snails, so generally encouraging more wildlife in the garden will provide them an abundance of food to find. They’ll also eat fruits as well as the typical birdfeed you can buy, particularly suet and worms. Just make sure it’s put on a ground feeder.

Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit

The tits are versatile feeders and will eat from the ground if there’s food but will mostly frequent hanging bird feeders in the garden. They like to eat sunflower seeds and hearts but will enjoy a variety of bird seed types.

Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Bullfinch

Finches will happily eat from feeders or tables. Using feeders with multiple perches is a good way to go as often there will be groups of them queuing for a turn. They’ll eat a variety of birdseed and worms. They love sunflowers so a few of these will attract them, as will rowan trees, birch trees, elderberry, ivy, honeysuckle, and holly to name a few.


Wrens are ground foragers, rarely venturing onto a hanging feeder, as they like to be under cover. A bird table placed on the ground under cover would be better for them. Plants they can hide in or under like hedging work for them too, ivy is also a good choice for them to hide in and around.


Dunnock’s other name is “hedge sparrow” so you can imagine what types of plants they like already. Similarly to wrens they’ll forage around under cover and enjoy a variety of bird foods from suet to seeds and worms.

House Sparrow

House Sparrow Sparrows are eager seedeaters. They love sunflower seeds, millet, niger seeds and mixed birdseed so ensure these are in your feeders. They also favour really dense plants so privet hedging, euonymus and photinia red robin are good options for them.

Listen to Common Songbirds

To hear recorded birdsong from a variety of common songbirds and more, please visit these sites:

Attract More Songbirds to Your Garden next Spring

Birdsong is a wonderful aspect of the natural world and very good for our wellbeing. Following our tips will help create an inviting environment that encourages more songbirds to make your garden their home. With just a little effort, you’ll be able to enjoy the beauty of their birdsong in your garden each spring for years to come. Happy listening!


You are now leaving Squire’s and visiting our careers website, to view and apply for our latest jobs.