The sun is currently streaming in my window, and the snow of a couple of weeks ago is forgotten. It feels like spring may well be here soon!

You may see birds in the garden singing away or investigating around your garden. Have you seen any signs of spring in your gardens on on your local walks?

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Feeding Birds

This time of year can have quite varied weather - which can make it difficult for garden birds to find enough food. 

Birds such as sparrows, blue tits, chaffinches and greenfinches will be happy to use hanging feeders. For ground feeders, such as blackbirds, thrushes and starlings, you could scatter food under the bird table (if cats are not regular visitors to your garden).

Birdseed is a great way to feed your garden friends (the RSPB has an online shop https://shopping.rspb.org.uk/ or call 0345 034 7733), or you can put out some of your household scraps.

Mild grated cheese can be a good way of attracting robins, wrens and dunnocks. Cooked rice, brown or white (without salt added) benefits all sorts of birds during severe winter weather. 

You can put out fat from unsalted cuts of meat in large pieces for the birds. Birds, such as tits, can remove morsels from them. Make sure they are well anchored to prevent large birds flying away with the whole piece!

Baked potatoes (cold and opened up), roast and even mashed potatoes with added real fats are all suitable food for birds. 

Apples, pears and other fruit, including bruised and part rotten ones, cut up, are very popular with all thrushes, tits and starlings.

All types of bread can be digested by birds, but ideally it should only be just one component in a varied diet. Bread does not contain the necessary protein and fat birds need from their diet, and so it can act as an empty filler. Although bread isn't harmful to birds, try not to offer it in large quantities, since its nutritional value is relatively low. A bird that is on a diet of predominantly, or only bread, can suffer from serious vitamin deficiencies, or starve. Soaked bread is more easily ingested than stale dry bread, and brown bread is better than white. Crumbled bread is suitable in small quantities, but moisten if it is very dry. 

Please make sure that nothing has salt on it! Garden birds are practically unable to metabolise salt. It is toxic to them in high quantities and affects their nervous system. Under normal circumstances in the wild, birds are unlikely to take harmful amounts of salt. Never put out salted food onto the bird table, and never add salt to bird baths to keep water ice-free in the winter.

If you would like more details about feeding birds in your garden look here...

 

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Gardening for Wildlife

As the days are getting longer, and the sun starting to shine you might be tempted to get out into the garden. 


During February here are some of the gardening jobs that you could do:

  • Plant trees, shrubs and hedges in milder weather
  • Prune winter dogwoods to just above ground level
  • Spread compost or bark around shrubs and trees
  • Prune apple and pear trees
  • Make a pond or wetlanda
  • Check bird baths and ponds and remove any ice
  • Put up nestboxes
  • Buy seed catalogues and plan what you will grow
  • If hedges need trimming, do so after the birds have eaten the berries (but before the nesting season begins in March)

There is lots of advice on gardening for wildlife at this time if year  if you look here. There are lots of suggestions for plants that are good for wildlife, gardening jobs for this time of year, homes that you can create, and lobs of other suggestions. 

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There is a Signs of Spring activity as part of the Wild Challenge!

Wild Challenge is a challenge for you and the family to connect with the natural world in brave new ways - to reach out and touch it and meet it head-on, up-close and personal.

Wild Challenge is free and fun! Getting children (and the grown ups too) up close and personal with nature with our enjoyable activities.

The Signs of Spring challenge is looking for all the signs of spring, and taking some photos -  if you're under 19, you can even submit it to this year's WildPix competition.

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