Winter Bird Care
Inviting birds into your garden can be a fascinating pastime as well as richly required resource for struggling wildlife. In an era where many species are in decline due to a combination of irregular seasonal weather, loss of habitat, widespread use of chemicals and consequent reduction within food supply chain, wild birds need all the support they can get.
Begin by assessing how wildlife friendly your garden is by looking at the inclusion of trees (preferably native), berrying fruits (such as honeysuckle rose hip, holly and pyracantha), a broad range of plant material (bio diversity in species, form, shape, evergreen, deciduous) and a natural water source (pond, damp area). All provide habitat and canopy for range of bird and insects as well as hedgehogs and other garden users. Species differ in their requirements both in food and habitat so you will need to research and tailor your efforts if aiming to attract specific varieties.
However, as a general rule, don’t be too tidy. Leave the lawn uncut as a home for insects, let the ivy grow as a vital source of late/early shelter/nectar, allow the nettles free reign behind the shed, don’t sweep up every last leaf or move every log and let the fresh winter puddle sit in the lawn for a while. If possible give over part of your garden as a totally wild zone or consider giving way to substance over style and adding native trees and wildflowers.
Your garden provides an access point as part of a larger scale plan for both domestic and migratory birds. They recognise Hazels (and catkins) for example, know that Birch and Oak bark house plentiful overwintering insects. Above all birds thrive in the rich bio diversity of a chemical free space. Take a holistic approach to providing natural food and water sources, habitat and shelter.
The Garden Centre can supplement your endeavours with a wide range of bird boxes and baths, feeders and stations, seeds, balls and fat rich supplements, plus seasonal planting advice. Arriving in spring this year is the Langton Bird Cam (also available in store) allowing us, hopefully, to peak into the world of nesting and fledging?
Leave seed heads on over wintering plants. Do not cut all roses flowers to encourage hips.
Put Bird boxes out early. If possible, clean after fledging for next season.
Provide fat rich food and fresh clean water in wide shallow bowl or bath.
Situate feeders and baths away from shrubs in open ground so birds can see cats.
Consider putting a bell on the cat’s collar.
Turn the compost heap or hang dried heads of summer sunflowers for and instant mid-winter bird fest.
Visit your local nature reserve. Join the RSPB or local ornithology group.
Plan a wildflower meadow.
For Further Information see rspb.org.uk