The days may be short, making us want to curl up inside and avoid the garden, but one thing I’ve realized is that winter, with its bare branches and scarce food, is a great time to keep an eye out for birds on the hunt for a quick meal. With the RSPB’s annual Big Garden Bird Watch coming up at the end of January, now is also the perfect time to brave the cold and make your garden a little more homely for our feathered friends.
Some simple ideas include:
Putting up bird feeders – A couple of feeders or a table containing different varieties of food for birds can attract a range of visitors to your garden. There are lots of mixes available online and from garden centres, and at colder times of year, it’s really helpful for birds to have many sources of food. Goldfinch enjoy niger seed, and if you’re a fan of Lorna’s greenfinch cushion, you might want to pick a feeder that’s suitable for peanuts, which will also be enjoyed by house sparrows and woodpeckers. If the blue tits are your favourites, fat balls (removed from any plastic mesh) will be an excellent source of energy.
A blue tit eyes one of his remaining natural sources of food
Sources of clean, fresh water – It’s important, especially when temperatures dip below freezing, for birds to have somewhere to drink from and bathe in that isn’t frozen over. Keeping a birdbath clean, and somewhere fairly open so that the birds feel safe from predators, can provide an important source of water for them all year round. You can keep it ice free by floating a light ball on the surface, which will be moved by the breeze. You’ll soon have robins taking a bath in front of your eyes.
A robin we spotted at our recent family trip to Jimmy’s Farm
Add a nesting box – The where is more important than the when for giving birds new places to nest. Site your box somewhere with a clear flight path in, as well as away from predators – think about height from the ground and ideally attach to a sheer surface that it’s hard for cats to climb.
All that’s left is to snuggle up with some of Lorna’s bird themed cushions, hang a willow tit stocking on the fireplace (not currently on our website – if interested drop us an email), and register for the Big Garden Bird Watch 2017. Why not let us know by social media what your favourite garden bird spots are and you could find them featured on a future card or even wallpaper in the new year.
Written by Anna Syson for Lorna Syson