When the cold weather strikes, the chances of birds visiting our gardens increase dramatically. Food for birds is very scare and hard to come by in the winter months, especially when the ground is covered with a thick blanket of snow. With a little effort, any of us, whether we are avid gardeners or not can do a little to help the wildlife thrive during the cold winter months.
We can easily help by providing food in the form of fat balls, meal worms, nuts, seeds and grains. If using nuts, make sure that they don’t go mouldy as these are poisonous to the birds.
You can easily make the fat balls for the birds yourself at home rather than buying them in. Simply melt some lard or suet in a pan, add a variety of bird seeds and mix thoroughly. Using an old yoghurt pot, cut a small hole in the bottom and pull a length of string through. Fill the pot with the mixture, ensuring that it wraps itself around the string and leave to harden. When the mixture is hard, remove the pot and hang them on various objects around the garden.
There are a number of other foods that birds would thank you for if they could. These include food items such as cooked pasta and cooked rice, porridge oats, soft fruit and grated cheese.
Another idea is to plan ahead in the spring and summer months & plant plenty of sunflower plants. Not only will bees and other beneficial insects benefit from the pollen on these large glorious heads in the summer, but the flower heads when left to dry, are a valuable source of highly nutritious seeds. Save the seeds for the next year’s planting and repeat the process and plant again the following spring.
If you have any fruit bushes in your garden or allotment you can remove the protective netting. This gives the birds an opportunity to eat the remaining berries that you will no longer be eating.
Birds will also need to have access to a fresh supply of water too, both for drinking and bathing. Just put clean, tepid water in any kind of shallow container, away from the reach of cats. Adding a ping pong ball in the container will also prevent the water from freezing.
More information about how you can feed birds during winter can be found from the RSPB’s webpage.