During the winter months it’s easy to close the curtains and turn up the central heating, but don’t forget that there are creatures struggling to survive in your garden. Wild birds look for food every day. Here are some ways you can support our feathered friends in the harsh winter.
Put out food
The UK has many different types of wild bird, and they all feed differently.To encourage robins put out seeds, currants, mealworms and left over bacon rind on a bench or bird-table. It’s a lovely winter scene when you spot a robin eating in your garden! If you are lucky, a thrush may even join in.
If you want to attract other native birds such as blue tits, then the best bet is a seed feeder or a wire feeder packed with Niger seed. Suet with added insects is also a great way to get some nutrients into wild birds.
It sounds obvious, but ensure you put a fresh water supply near the bird food. A birdbath is the best method. However, as the temperatures drop, it is important not to let the water freeze. Place a stick or ping pong ball on the surface to prevent it from icing over.
A bird-table is the safest way to feed ground-feeding robins, as it gives them a good vantage point to watch out for skulking cats or larger aggressive birds such as magpies.
If you can hang your feeders in a tree that lends some protection to birds from rain and gusts of wind, it’s likely to attract more visitors. When it snows, remember to clear your bird-table and feeders, and break any ice formed on the birdbath.
You may find that your bird feeding activities attract unwelcome guests. Squirrels for example, are experts at stealing every bit of food going! Invest in a squirrel-proof feeder, and tie any fat balls to thin branches! If they become a pest, then try a squirrel-proof pole. If you want to discourage pigeons, put all loose food on a bird table with a low roof, so that they can’t squeeze underneath. Clear up any leftover food promptly, or you’ll attract mice and rats.
If you’ve just started feeding birds, it can take several weeks before they are confident enough to eat your offerings. However, if you persevere with the right mix of foods in a safe setting, you will soon see all kinds of wild birds, and enjoy the satisfaction of helping out our declining native bird population. You may even find that they decide to nest in your garden during the spring. Well done you – just remember to invest in a bird species guidebook!