Birds return as winter nears

The falling temperatures may trigger mass migrations but late autumn and early winter offer a golden opportunity for the avid garden bird enthusiast. There’s probably no easier way to enjoy so many hours of easy bird watching, quite literally on your own doorstep – and you never quite know what you’re going to see next!

There are so many birds to look out for and the type of birds you see will largely tend to depend on where you live and what food you have on offer. Yet for most British gardens, it’s a great chance to spot some usual sights such as the beautiful Blackbird, agile Blue Tits, House Sparrows and Greenfinches.

One of our favourite British birds, Robins lays claim to their winter feeding territories andCoal Tits return to many gardens where they grab food and hide it somewhere for feeding later. You may also begin to see Starlings feeding in the suburbs during the day.

Plus there’s winter visitors that arrive in autumn from the north and east, where the weather is milder and food is easier to find. They include Bramblings, Redwings and Fieldfares. Make the most of spotting these seasonal visitors who will return to their homes come springtime.

In the winter, our colourful Bullfinch population can be joined by Bullfinches from Scandinavia. You can spot these as they’re slightly larger and heavier and much less shy than our own Bullfinch, plus the male has an intense pink breast. They usually feed on buds, berries, seeds and insects and they also take seed from a hanging seed feeder ortasty suet cake.

Feed them the most beneficial foods

Finding food at this time of year is difficult even if the weather stays fairly mild, but when the temperature plummets and there’s snow on the ground, life very quickly becomes a real challenge for our feathered friends. It’s probably just as well that many of us enjoy feeding and watching the birds.

During the colder months it’s critical for birds to find, handle and consume their food quickly. Some smaller species need to consume almost one third of their own body weight in food every day, so providing high-energy food for them has a very positive effect. Help your garden visitors survive the winter and leave a constant supply of high-energy foods, such as those rich in protein and fat. Seeds and nuts, suet treat cakes and suet balls appeal to a wide range of birds and can help them survive the cold.

• High-energy foods are best in winter so insure that, at the very minimum, your feeders are constantly stocked with mixes like Ultiva® Gold or Ultiva® Premium Feeder Mix to provide a nutritious, balanced diet.

• Don’t forget to feed the birds that like to feed on the ground or table. Species such as Blackbird, Song Thrush and Dunnock do not like to use hanging feeders – a good, general purpose seed mix like Ultiva® Table & Ground Mix is perfect for the job. Don’t forget those kitchen scraps too, from breadcrumbs and bacon rind to sultanas and apples.

• Suet foods are most popular with all kinds of birds during the winter, they’re packed full of nutritious fatty oils and energy boosting ingredients and are certain to keep all your birds happy this winter. Try our Peanut Butter Treat Cakes for a top-quality, beak-watering snack – at just £11.99 for 2 you’ll be getting good value for money too!

• Every single one of your garden visitors will love Bogena, the delicious rich mix of only the very best ingredients is the ideal harsh weather supplement – it’s like giving your birds a warm winter jacket!

• Finally, don’t forget to give your resident robin a wiggly treat, such as Mealworms orWaxworms – they’re the ultimate softbill snack and the perfect way to boost your birds into spring!

Manage your garden to provide natural food sources for birds

It’s not just the food we put on our bird tables and in feeders that attracts many birds into our garden. You can create and manage your garden to provide a source of natural foods as well, through well-managed lawns, shrubs and flowerbeds. For example, many ornamental shrubs produce berries favoured by thrushes, such as Cotoneaster, Pyracantha and Mountain Ash.

You might find you adopt a tame Robin whilst raking leaves from flower beds in autumn and winter. As the soil surface is disturbed they’ll stand nearby picking out all the little bugs that jump around.

Leave a quiet corner of your garden to grow wild, even if it’s only a tiny space. Long grass containing wildflowers provide seeds, insects, slugs and snails. A small pile of logs make the perfect habitat for various bugs that will be a delicious treat for all sorts of garden birds that may be a vital life-line in the middle of winter.

If you provide both natural and supplementary food, you’re bound to ensure your garden will be visited by a host of different birds and turn your garden into a wildlife haven.

Always provide water

You can also play your part by simply providing water for the birds to drink. Despite winter being cold, it can sometimes be one of the driest times of year as many water sources will be frozen. Why not put out a small bowl or bird bath and remember to check the water daily. On colder days whenever you boil the kettle, you could pop outside with the remaining boiling water to pour over any ice.

Provide roosting places

Birds need somewhere to shelter during the colder months and they’ll often choose a nest box to hide in. If you haven’t already, clear out your nest boxes – the best time to do it each year is in the autumn and you can disinfect with boiling water. Sometimes you will find unhatched eggs or even the remains of youngsters. This is quite normal – birds try to produce as many young as possible, knowing that there will always be some losses due to weather or food shortages. Unhatched eggs can legally only be removed between October and January and must be thrown away.

Introduce someone new to feeding the birds

It’s always a good time to introduce someone new to this fun and rewarding hobby, but during the winter the birds need as much help as they can get. There’s nothing more rewarding than helping some of the countries most endangered birds survive during the coldest months of the year, at the same time you can benefit from watching beautiful birds flock to your garden to feed happily and safely.

Why wait? Introduce someone new to this fulfilling hobby today and help the birds survive the winter.