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You might think that winter's a dead and dull time in the garden but actually it's an incredibly active period for birds. This is the perfect time to prepare an ideal wildlife environment and your bird-table generosity will not only help these tiny creatures survive the ravages of winter but provide you with a visual feast that will brighten the darkest months of the year. It's the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch during January and an ideal time to get involved.
Did you know that wrens sometimes sleep together at night in order to keep warm? 63 wrens were once found huddled together in a nest box! And some birds are not great nest-builders. Collared doves, for example, sometimes lose their chicks through holes in their nests. Others just can't resist feeding a hungry chick robins have been seen looking after chicks belonging to other birds!
Ready to entice feathery visitors to your table? Here's some advice:
- Choose energy rich seeds for hanging feeders to attract a wide variety of birds
- Scatter food at ground level or use a ground-feeding tray for collared doves, blackbirds, dunnocks and wrens.
- Provide a good variety of grains, seed and nuts for birds such as blackcaps, house sparrows, bullfinches, goldfinches, greenfinches, starlings, robins and siskins. The best mixes contain plenty of flaked maize, sunflower seeds and peanut granules.
- Small seeds such as millet and nyjer attract finches, sparrows, dunnocks, reed buntings and collared doves.
- Flaked maize is enjoyed by blackbirds; peanuts and sunflower seeds are loved by tits and greenfinches.
- Pinhead oatmeal is great for many birds but larger, hard grains such as wheat and barley are only really suitable for pigeons, doves and pheasants that feed on the ground.
- Whole peanuts are wonderful food for tits, greenfinches, house sparrows, nuthatches, woodpeckers, and siskins.
- Many birds love food bars, fat balls and bird cake and live food such as mealworms is relished by many.
Just a few warnings:
- Avoid giving fat from cooked fowl such as chicken and turkey as the consistency gums up a bird's feathers.
- Don't feed salt or food with a high salt content.
- Ditch the dairy - avoid giving birds products containing milk because birds guts are not able to digest it.
You might like to view bird feeders here. * All photos on this page kindly provided by the School Grounds Bird Box Project