Looking After Your Garden Guests…

Our own back gardens have now become a fantastic refuge for our native species of birds, as they can actually find the countryside around them a hostile place these days.

So if you’ve a garden or a secluded area where birds can feed safely, then please try to do your bit to help them survive these coming winter months.

The cold weather’s already arrived and we can all easily help out some of our commoner species such as blackbirds, blue tits, robins, starlings and sparrows by setting up a feeding station and keeping it well-stocked until the spring.

I still derive so much pleasure watching the coming and goings of birds, and within days you’ll even be able to recognize those regular visitors making routine visits to your garden in their daily search for food.

You may even discover species you’ve never seen close-up before, such as the nervous nuthatch (pictured) or even the stunning but extremely shy great spotted woodpecker.

Peanuts have long been a traditional favourite food but there is now such a wide range of specially prepared foods available you can even specialize in which birds you would like to attract!

Many of our favourite garden guests like the robin or thrush are not natural seed-eaters, much preferring fruit, berries, various insects, worms, grubs and snails; a diet fully catered-for by most bird food producers, local pet shops and garden centres.

When setting up a feeding station make sure your table or feeders are near to branches or perches where birds can land and look around – they need to feel safe before feeding.

Also try not to put feeding stations too near thick bushes where a crafty cat might be hiding.

Please don’t feed rice, desiccated coconut or cooked meat. Bread isn’t very nutritious either but it’s not harmful and should always be broken into tiny pieces.

Scatter some food on the floor for ground feeders such as song thrushes and chaffinches.

Provide birds with a fresh supply of water for drinking and bathing but never add salt, antifreeze or other chemicals to melt the ice. These hazardous substances can also prove deadly to our pets.

Find time to sit, relax and enjoy watching the birds in your garden. Combined, Britain’s gardens are our biggest nature reserve and go a long way to providing places where our native birds can not only just survive but also flourish.

Finally, please try and keep areas where the birds collect nice and clean. Sadly, they can become seriously ill, or even die when there’s a build-up of infected droppings. Prevent this by always cleaning your bird-table/patio regularly and changing their water frequently.

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