Looking after garden birds in cold weather

With the cold and snow part of their days, don’t forget about those little garden birds.

With the cold and snow part of their days, don’t forget about those little garden birds.

If you’re feeding birds for the first time, then you’ll discover that garden centres, hardware stores and supermarkets have a range of bird feeders - whether these are stand-alone feeders, bird tables or feeders that hang from a tree

or a hook.

Even when the weather isn’t too cold, this is a difficult time of year for birds. Many birds are experiencing their first winter and it is a real test to get through it. Berries and insects are in short supply and most seeds are gone. Supplementing birds’ food, therefore, is a must. The options available are as follows:

Peanuts - these are rich in fat and are popular with Finches, Sparrows, Tits, Robins, Dunnocks and so on. Peanuts contain some poisons, though, so buy from a reputable dealer. Make sure to use a wire mesh feeder so that birds can only get bits of the nuts - never put out whole peanuts.

Birdseed - Buy the best seed you can afford. Invest in a proper seed feeder. Black sunflower seeds are an excellent year-round food. The oil content is higher in black than striped ones. Sunflower seeds attract the beautiful Goldfinches.

Fat or suet balls - They are usually sold in nylon mesh bags. You can buy a special feeder for these or hang them from a nail or hook where you can see them. You can also make your own bird cake by mixing melted lard with

ingredients such as seeds, nuts or oatmeal and allowing the mix to harden. An empty yoghurt container makes an ideal bird cake container or empty the cake onto your bird table when it’s set hard.

Other bits and pieces - grated cheese, moistened oatmeal, bread and cake crumbs, cooked rice and so on. Fat, in the form of butter or margarine, is very welcome.

Blackbirds, Thrushes and Blackcaps love apples so put some of these out too.

Finally, always have a supply of water available and unfreeze the water on really cold days.