Looking out for feathered friends
As winter approaches, it's essential to consider the well-being of our feathered friends that inhabit our gardens. They struggle in the winter just like the rest of us do - the frosty weather and cold temperatures can make finding food and shelter more difficult for these charming little creatures. Even stuff as simple as remembering to keep your bird feeders topped up over the winter and making sure there’s water available goes a long way in helping. Having birds in your garden is beneficial for a number of different reasons, so putting out a helping hand is a great way to return the favour.
Birds play a crucial role in maintaining the balance of our ecosystem and inviting them into your garden can provide a multitude of benefits. Not only do they act as natural pest controllers by feeding on insects and small pests, but they also aid in pollination, helping your plants to thrive. The presence of birds in your garden can offer learning opportunities for children and adults alike, helping to foster an appreciation for wildlife and understand the importance of conservation efforts. Moreover, their whistling birdsong and vibrant colours are perfect for creating a serene and peaceful atmosphere, turning your garden into the ideal spot for a relaxing sit down.
Garden birds really benefit from feeding year round, but giving them the right food for this time of year is extra important. As soon as the hard frosts start to arrive, start putting out foodstuff with a high fat content. This helps to keep them warm and should be done until mid-spring when it should start to warm up a bit. They will quickly make a note of where they can find a consistent food source, so make sure you’re putting out food regularly. That way, the birds aren’t wasting valuable energy visiting the garden when there’s no food out.
Different species of bird like to eat different things - having a decent understanding of what species are frequenting your garden will help you find out what you should be feeding them. Some bird species, such as sparrows and finches, like seeds. Tits are fond of fat. Thrushes and robins are fans of fruit and worms. Then there are birds like starlings, that will eat just about anything. Try and identify your feathered visitors to make sure you’re providing them with the right menu. If you can’t be sure or you get a real mixture of different species, provide a wide variety of bird seeds, nuts, grains and fats to satisfy as many needs as possible.
Even your own food can be used to feed birds, so think twice before chucking out your leftovers. Even expired food that’s past its best - things like fruit cake, mince pies, dried fruit, unsalted nuts, or apples and pears. Birds will gladly eat something that you won’t. When it comes to more timid birds like wrens and dunnocks, they might be a bit reluctant to come closer to your house. Try sprinkling some grated mild cheese under trees and bushes. Just make sure you’re putting out the right stuff - avoid anything that’s actually mouldy, as well as anything salty. Too much salt is poisonous to small birds.