I don’t know about you, but it had been rather quiet for birds visiting my garden up until Christmas. I kept my feeders and bird table topped up though with my usual combo of feeder mix and table mix, but it was very much the occasional bird dropping in rather than a steady stream of visitors.

Over the Christmas break, a pair of goldfinches turned up, which out a smile on our faces. A pair visits occasionally, so I assumed natural food had started to get a bit scarce in the area.

As I watched them picking out the seeds from pole and hanging feeders, in particular the oats and sunflower hearts in the feeder mix, I began to wonder if I ought to go and get some nyjer seed, as they like this. A couple of days later, we got a real surprise when I counted nine goldfinches packed on to the feeders. Time to get that extra seed and full up a few more feeders!


Sunflower hearts go down well with goldfinches (Nigel Blake rspb-images.com)

With the weather turning a bit colder, and mindful of the absence of splendid starlings, I picked up some suet products too. No word of a lie, I had literally just filled up two fat ball feeders and was locking the back door, when a single starling flew in and started feeding on the fat balls. How do they know?!

Having previously blogged about my Big Garden Birdwatch wish list, and including rose-coloured starling, I’m hopeful it will tell a friend and some good numbers will start using our feeders, hopefully bringing with them a “rosey”! It’s a long shot, but you never know. We're now getting a decent sized flock.

Back on the subject of “how do they know”, our house sparrow flock of around 30 birds suddenly appeared from nowhere once the additional feeders had been put out.

How will you do yours?
I really think it’s important to feed your garden birds in January, February and March because natural food has dwindled in many places by now. This is certainly the case here in Cambridgeshire, so stock up and they'll come.


Goldfinches' tweezer like beaks are perfect for extracting nyjer seeds from feeders (Nigel Blake rspb-images.com)

And if you needed any other incentive to feed your birds, and give them a bit extra, your Big Garden Birdwatch count should get a big boost!

See your January issue of Nature’s Home for more about Big Garden Birdwatch, the migrant birds currently hiding among your garden regulars and much more and have a look at Emma' P's brilliant blog about taking part and Emma L's blog with more feeding tips!

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