... not by knitting them little woolly hats and scarves, but by giving them some food and water.

The weather forecast is looking chilly for the weekend for much of the UK (as I write this it's minus 4 Celsius in sunny Sandy - pretty tough for us soft southerners). So it's even more important than ever to keep your bird feeders topped up and water available.

Even in the depths of winter, birds like to bathe daily. Personally, I can't think of anything much worse than an alfresco bath at the moment, but birds need water not only to drink but also to keep their feathers in good condition. It's difficult to stop water from freezing in these temperatures, but we have a few tips and tricks which might help.

As for food, it depends on which birds are visiting you. When it's cold outside and the days are short - and there's less time to feed - fat is the name of the game. There are a few things to be careful of, but don't worry - we've got everything you need to know about what to feed the birds. Things like apples and oats are also good sources of energy which birds need to keep warm.

Once you've done your duty and retreated back indoors, feel the warm glow of satisfaction as hungry birds descend. Cold weather often brings unusual visitors to gardens, so please let us know what turns up!

  • Great advice Claire. I don't really worry about water as there's a river (which is low and slow at the moment) right behind my house, and loads of streams around here but the food thing is an important issue. I was up on the shed on the morning after the snow sweeping it off before covering it with seed, and I do this every morning there has been snow. I also covered the tops of my 2" steel mesh boxes which I made to go around the feeding stations last year to stop the sparrow-hawks and Buzzards trying to kill birds around my feeders with foil to stop the snow building up on the feeder trays.

    This year has been easy, last year it was a real pain for six weeks when I struggled to keep areas clear for the ground feeders to be able to eat and the shed clear everything else.

  • I'm sure your birds appreciate your dedication, Claire! I'm impressed :o)

  • We've been defrosting the bird bath each day, twice a day!  and have been rewarded with lots of birds bathing and drinking. We have a variety of feeders and treats out and have just taken your advice and put some suet, chopped apple and sultanas out on the trays. Husband has retreated to the workshop in the hopes the garden will soon be alive and he can take some photos. Bearing mind it is minus 7 here in North Hampshire, rather him than me!