So it’s the last week before the Christmas Holidays, and many of you will be breathing a sigh of relief and looking forward to a well deserved break. But until that time arrives, I suspect many of you will be enjoying your students’ enthusiasm for Christmas and doing lots of festive activities with them.
Many of your students will have a variety of different experiences at Christmas, and I’m sure most of them will revolve around presents and food. Will they be so caught up in the holiday that they forget the nature around them?
Why not ask your class to give an extra Christmas present to the birds in their garden – This could be something you make in your class together or simply by asking them to share their Christmas dinner with the birds.
Most kitchen scraps and Christmas leftovers make ideal snacks for birds visiting gardens and can help them get the food they need to survive. Here’s a quick guide to what you can ask your students to put out:
Fat - fat from cuts of meat (as long as it comes from only unsalted varieties) can be put out in large pieces, from which birds such as tits can remove morsels. Make sure that these are well anchored to prevent large birds flying away with the whole piece.
Roast potatoes - cold and opened up, these will be eaten by most garden birds.
Vegetables - cold Brussels, parsnips or carrots will be eaten by starlings and other birds, but remember not to put out more than will be eaten in one day, otherwise you run the risk of attracting rats.
Fruit - excess or bruised apples, pears and other fruit are very popular with all thrushes, tits and starlings. Cut them up and leave them on the bird table or on the ground.
Pastry - cooked or uncooked is excellent, especially if it has been made with real fats.
Cheese - Hard bits of cheese are a favourite with robins, dunnocks, blackbirds and song thrushes. It will also help wrens if placed under hedgerows and other areas in your garden where you have noticed them feeding. Avoid feeding them very strong or blue cheeses.
Dried fruits - raisins, sultanas and currants are particularly enjoyed by blackbirds, song thrushes and robins.
Biscuits and cake - Stale cake and broken pieces of biscuits from the bottom of the tin are high in fat and ideal for birds in the winter.
If you ask your students to follow these next three golden rules, they won't go far wrong....