It’s nearly time for the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2022. The world's largest garden wildlife survey takes place January 28-30th and is a great activity to learn about the birds in your garden.
All you need to do is set aside an hour to relax and record the birds that come and go in your garden or local park. Here at Gardenesque, we have put together our top tips for caring for our feathered friends during the winter and a birdwatch guide to help you attract different bird species to your outdoor pace.
The most important thing we can do to help care and feed our garden birds is to supplement their diet over winter with a bird seed mix which includes essential fats, nutrients, and protein. In winter there are less natural foods available and shorter days mean there is also less time for them to forage.
High energy suet treats such as pellets, cakes and fat balls, as well as specialist winter seed mixes that include sunflower and nyger, are an important food source that'll help the birds to survive the winter. Garden birds have very fast metabolisms, so the small amount of calories and fat they consume during cold weather is needed to convert into heat to keep them warm.
Our Hanging Wooden Bird Feeder is ideal for seed mixes with an opening roof to enable easy refilling and cleaning. It provides you with the perfect platform to watch the birds and will attract popular species such as the blue tit or house sparrow. Alternatively, our Natural Wooden Standing Bird Feeder makes a quintessential British addition to your garden with angled bark roof giving protection to feeding birds from the elements and predators.
If your container garden plants have fruit, berries, hips, seeds and nuts they will also provide an exciting meal for birds. Crab apple trees, berry bushes, and other fruiting plants provide vital food and shelter, whilst holly, hawthorn, rowan and dogwood all provide delicious delicacies or attract tasty insects.
Make your own pot bird feeder
A great activity for the whole family to get involved to attract avian visitors to your garden is to make your own terracotta bird feeder. It is really easy to make, all you need is some small frostproof terracotta pots, (or a yoghurt pot, half plastic bottle, mould or half coconut will do) bird seed, fruit and some lard for this tasty treat!
- Thread some string or twine through the drainage hole of your pot and tie the ends together to form a knot.
- Melt the lard in a saucepan over a low heat and allow to cool.
- Slowly mix into the lard an equal amount of dried fruit (we recommend raisins, sultanas or currants) and bird seed.
- Spoon the mixture into your terracotta pot and firm down until each is full.
- Place a short bamboo cane in the middle of your mixture so the garden birds have somewhere to perch whilst feasting.
- Put in the fridge to cool the mixture and allow it to set for approximately 15 minutes.
- Once set, hang on a tree branch or feeding station and enjoy an array of garden birds dining in your garden.
Water is an essential source for birds over winter, despite the UK’s rainfall. In cold weather which results in a frost, fresh water is just as important as food as garden birds will struggle to find unfrozen water for drinking and bathing to maintain their plumage.
Our range of bird baths and bowls is an excellent water source for birds who need to drink at least twice a day. Baths should have sloped sides for easy access and water can be prevented from freezing by adding a table tennis ball on the surface of the water. Keep your bird bath clean by using a special wildlife disinfectant to prevent bacteria and disease spreading and make sure you change the water regularly, ideally daily.
We also recommend placing your bird bath in a safe spot, preferably near bushes or foliage to give shelter from the elements and somewhere to hide in case of predators.
Introducing a bird nesting box to your garden will make a big difference to a bird’s quality of life. Bird boxes can be used to hatch and raise a bird’s young, or take shelter from cold, bad weather and protection from predators.
When choosing a nest box, it’s a good idea to go for one that is made from durable FSC timber to provide sufficient insulation over winter. We also recommend bird boxes with entrance holes that are 32mm, which is ideal size for all small-hole nesting birds, such as house sparrows and the tit family.
Our Colourful Wooden Bird House is suitable for small garden birds including wrens, robins and nuthatches.
The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch is a great family activity to get involved in and get school children engaged with nature. Taking part in the big bird watch involves spending an hour watching and counting the birds that visit your outdoor space, before sending the results to the RSPB. Last year, more than 8 million birds were spotted in UK gardens with the house sparrow, starling and blackbird making up the top three.