Wildlife charity The RSPB has issued some guidelines to help us when feeding our garden birds over the festive season.
Christmas may be different for many of us this year, but our garden birds will be just as hungry with less food around during winter.
If you’d like to help our feathered friends this season, here’s the RSPB’s guide to what can be put out and what foods to avoid:
Christmas meal leftovers are great, especially chopped unsalted bacon rind, dried fruit, old apples and pears and crumbled cheese. However, avoid cooking fat from your Sunday roast or Christmas turkey as this can stick a bird’s feathers together, making it impossible for them to keep dry and warm.
Some other foods can also be dangerous for birds, including dried coconut, cooked porridge oats, and milk, so be sure to check on the RSPB website just in case.
If you’d like to make your own Christmas cake for the birds, the RSPB suggests mixing birdseed, nuts and raisins together with lard, squashing it around a pinecone, then hanging it with string from a tree
Garden birds will also appreciate packaged bird food this time of year. Sparrows, tits and finches will all visit feeders containing nuts, fat or seed mixtures, with insect-eaters, such as dunnocks, robins, starlings, and wrens preferring mealworms – although they will eat other types of food too.
Suet-based products are particularly calorific so can be a big boost in getting your birds through the colder nights.
Fresh water for drinking and bathing is also essential for birds but can be difficult to find during winter as ponds start to freeze. A handy tip to keep your birdbath ice-free is to float a ping pong ball on the surface. The slightest gust of wind will keep the ball moving and stop the water turning to ice!
Looking ahead, you can also help the birds in your neighbourhood by taking part in the Big Garden Birdwatch from 29th to 31st January 2021. Every year the RSPB asks people to look out their window or head to their local park and record what birds they see over the course of an hour, helping them keep track of how garden birds are faring. Half a million people take part in the world’s largest garden wildlife survey every year, which is now in its fourth decade.
For your FREE Big Garden Birdwatch guide – including a bird identification chart, top tips for your birdwatch, RSPB shop voucher, plus advice on how to help you attract wildlife to your garden – text BIRD to 70030 or visit www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch from 9th December 2020.
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