RSPB's Morwenna Alldis, offers some top tips on how to give your garden birds a home this Christmas...
Photo 1: Robin in snow by Ben Andrew (rspb-images.com)
Food - As temperatures start to drop our garden birds need a helping hand finding food, water and shelter. During the colder months birds need a lot of energy just to maintain their body temperature, so it’s important to feed them foods that are high in fat, such as sunflower seeds, peanuts or fat-based food bars. If these fatty foods come in a mesh sacking, be sure to remove them from the netting and place them into a feeder or directly onto a bird table - birds can become trapped and injured by getting caught on the mesh.
Photo 2: Robin by David Tipling (rspb-images.com)
Monitor how much food your garden birds eat and adjust the amount you put out according to their appetites – a build-up of uneaten food in or around feeders and tables can quickly turn rancid, so regularly discard any leftovers. During cold weather it’s a good idea to feed twice a day (if demand calls for it), once in the morning and again early afternoon.
Water - Make sure that you also provide daily fresh water for your garden birds in a birdbath, pond or even a recycled, shallow container with a stone inside so that they can perch - birds need this to drink and bathe. During winter your garden water becomes even more important as natural sources can freeze. Ensure that you regularly check your bird baths during the colder weather, in case a sudden frost causes the surface of your water to freeze, making it inaccessible for birds. If your garden water has frozen, pour hot water over the surface to melt it – but be careful when doing this, we don’t want you scorching your own wings!
Photo 3: Blue tit by Ray Kennedy (rspb-images.com)
*Handy tip float a light ball on the surface of your pond or bird bath, it will be moved by the breeze, and will keep a small amount of water ice-free!
Cosy Shelter - Autumn/winter is the perfect time to install a nestbox in your garden. Birds can investigate the box now, before nesting season begins in the spring. And you may even find that some birds use the box as a winter roost - valuable shelter from blustery weather. For more info on nestboxes and the best place to position them, visit: http://bit.ly/RSPBnestboxes
Photo 4: House sparrows by Mark Thomas (rspb-images.com)
Birds very quickly get used to a regular food supply, so by feeding your garden birds now, you should encourage regular visits from your local bird population all year round – just in time for our Big Garden Birdwatch Survey which runs from Sat 26 – Mon 28 January, 2019 and celebrates its 40th anniversary too. For your FREE 40th anniversary Big Garden Birdwatch pack, which includes a bird identification chart, plus RSPB shop voucher and advice to help you attract wildlife to your garden, text BIRD to 70030 or visit www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch
To find out more about how you can give nature a home in your local patch, visit:www.rspb.org.uk/myplan
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