Fersiwn Gymraeg ar gael yma.

January is a fantastic time to get out to the garden and into the soil for the sake of your local wildlife and the health of your plants and flowers. And while some of you may already have the garden in its prime going into the Big Garden Birdwatch, others among you may want to make your gardens or balconies more welcoming for your local birds - and there are several easy things you can do.  

Garden grub

One obvious way of welcoming birds to your garden is to introduce a variety of feeders. At this cold time of year, birds need to store plenty of fat reserves. Putting a modest amount of peanut kernels is a winner, as blue tits and great tits especially will indulge in its high fat content. You might also see a nuthatch getting stuck in! Sunflower hearts are generally consumed by all garden birds, so do not be surprised to see a group (or a ‘pugnacious gang’, as the great Tony Soper calls them!) of house sparrows feasting. Another bird which moves in numbers are the starlings. Put out a suet block and you may well see them gorging away with their long beaks! But not all garden birds go for the feeders. The robin, blackbirds, song thrushes and dunnocks tend to prefer to feed off the ground, so make sure you scatter a good amount of your feed in different terrains within your garden.

The key with bird feeding in the garden is to only give a modest amount of good quality feed. While we look to support our feathered friends, we must remember that our contribution is merely a part of their food source. We also do not want an excess amount of bird food to attract rats to the garden.

But with garden bird feeding, here is the golden rule – keep your feeders clean. As has been often reported, greenfinches’ declines have been linked to trichonomosis, a bacterial disease transmitted through feeders. Therefore it is imperative that you clean your feeders weekly with a mild disinfectant such as Ark-Klens and change the water daily. We’ve even got the perfect cleaning set available in our shop.

We all love feeding our garden birds – to watch them in wonder and know that we’re helping them - but it is all for nothing if we fail to do so safely.

Leafing nature to do its thing

An easy way of helping both flower and fauna is by making leaf piles. By collecting leaves and placing them on your flowerbeds or making a leaf cage, you can protect your plants from frost as well as making a great habitat for insects. This of course makes a great food resource for ground-feeding birds such as the blackbird or the song thrush.

Some other ways of sprucing up the garden take a bit longer to come to fruition but are equally effective in the long-term.

Introducing a compost pile to your garden is another fantastic way of enriching your soils and fertilising your garden. Composting material provides food for decomposers such as fungi and soil invertebrates specialising in breaking down plant material, which in turn increases diversity of wildlife in your garden and attracts birds. You can build your compost heap from pallets, buy one already made or just do it the old-fashioned way and keep it as an open heap.

This time of year is as good as any to plant a tree or shrub for your garden birds. Bare-root plants are widely available at this time of the year and are cheaper than plants grown in pots. Planting in dormant season also gives the plants time to establish before the spring. And you’re spoilt for choice! Holly, rowan, crab apple will all give berries which the birds will love.

Another January garden task for the future is sorting out the bird housing situation! If you have birdhouses already installed, January is the perfect time to clear them out and disinfect them with a bit of boiling water. If you haven’t got any up yet, then go for it! There are several different houses available, varying shapes and sizes for many different birds. You could even visit our shop if you fancy – or build your own!

Not all preparations involve your garden! The Big Garden Bird Watch gives us a better understanding of how our garden birds are thriving across the UK, but it’s also an opportunity to get to know your feathered friends on your own doorstep. Let’s celebrate them!