The countdown to the Big Garden Birdwatch is on! It’s now just three weeks until it’s time to sit down, perhaps in your favourite chair, and look out your window for just one hour, counting the birds in your garden.
So, how can you make the most of your Birdwatch? Just how are you going to attract charms of goldfinches, squadrons of starlings and tonnes of tits to your garden?
It’s all in the preparation
You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘failing to prepare is preparing to fail’? Well, that’s true for your garden too! And this weekend is the perfect time to start your Birdwatch preparation. It’ll give your birds time to get used to any new foods or feeders.
There are three steps in my mind:
First things first. Get out there and clean your feeders. Don’t be shy, give them a good brush. Take a look at our advice pages for more information on how and why to do this.
Now could also be the time to invest in any new feeders. Our shops have sales on now, so why not pick a brand new feeder when you stock up on your bird food?
Get it out there
So you’ve got your food. The birds love it: it’s tried and tested. Get it out there. I’m not saying that you need to have feeders off every branch and mealworms scattered everywhere, but make sure your feeders are topped up and the right food is out. If you’ve got peanuts, for example, lying uneaten in your feeder, ditch them. Now’s the time to try something else. Put food on a bird table too, or the ground, for birds like blackbirds and dunnocks that don’t traditionally hop up on the feeder.
And don’t forget water: birds need a drink too! It only needs an upturned dustbin lid (surely there’s one lying around now most people have wheelie bins!) or even a tray for your plant pots. Just fill with water, stick a couple of stones in it and, hey presto, you have a water supply.
Again, take a look at our website for all the info you’ll ever need on feeding your garden birds.
Now that you’ve cleaned your feeders, and put out your food, it’s time to sit back and relax. The birds will come. If you’ve only just started then it may take a while, but chances are that if you’ve put out the right food, in the right place, they’ll be there in three weekend’s time.
So, you see, preparation is the key. It really is that simple to enjoy a bumper birdwatch! Enjoy...
Share your tips
Why not share your tips? What foods do you put out and are there any special tricks you use to entice the birds into your garden?
The suvey form opens online (www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch) on 28 January, and will then be open for several weeks after that for people to submit results.
Hope that's helpful.
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