Everyone loves to see birds visiting their garden, patio or balcony. Want to know how to boost your chances of seeing lots of birds through the year? Read on!
1. Feeding the birds is perhaps the quickest and easiest way to invite feathered friends into your garden or onto your balcony. Birds are creatures of habit, so don’t be disheartened if your brand-new feeders don’t attract visitors straight away. Be patient, and think like a bird to see if you could do anything differently...
2. That might mean checking your feeders or bird table are in the right place. Not too far from trees or bushes (so birds can make a short flight to safety), but not too close either – predators like cats can use low shrubbery as cover before launching an attack!
3. Like a restaurant or cafe proprietor, learn what your visitors like to eat. Choosing the right food is important. Some birds are picky eaters, while others are much less choosy. Identify your garden birds so you can tailor your birdfood menu.
4. If you’re putting out food for your garden birds, it’s crucial to keep feeders, baths and tables clean. Birds can catch diseases from each other, but you can help reduce the risk by cleaning up and making sure there aren’t too many leftovers!
5. It’s not all about food – water is important, even in cold weather. As well as laying on drinks for your guests, a simple bird bath will give birds somewhere to bathe. (A pond is even better and will attract lots of other wildlife, too.) It looks a bit chilly at this time of year, but bathing is essential for birds to keep their feathers in top condition (it’s also fun to watch them splashing around).
6. Make your garden a desirable home for birds into the spring by thinking about what they need for the breeding season. For some species, that can mean a cosy nestbox. And for others, what they need is a thick shrub or tree to build a nest in.
7. Bird-friendly plants can also offer lots of natural food. Trees or shrubs that have fruit or berries can attract thrushes, or even waxwings in some winters (beautiful migrant birds from Scandinavia which come here to ransack our berry bushes).
8. Insect-friendly plants aren’t just good for insects – they’re good for birds, too. Many birds eat insects, and they’re in especially high demand during spring and summer when many birds feed bugs and insects to their chicks. You also get to enjoy watching bees, butterflies, moths and hoverflies, and you can even grow them in pots if you don’t have a garden.
9. Be a wildlife-friendly gardener and avoid using pesticides. Be green-fingered and it’s often possible to avoid artificial chemicals and the effects they have on our wildlife.
10. If you can offer lots of these things, you should be well on the way to attracting lots of birds and other wildlife. Think of your garden as a mini-nature reserve – it doesn’t have to be scruffy, but lots of little things add up to give nature a home.
Frosty outside, isn't it?
Certainly in Bedfordshire, we've seen the first frosts of winter over the weekend. This morning, I wandered out into the the golden glow of the sunrise, and complete with a crisp, cold frost, it was the perfect start to the day.
For me, I love the early frosty mornings. There's something special about being out early with just noisy blackbirds, chattering starlings and shouty wrens for company! Here's a wonderful frosty shot from Mike Read, that I thought perfectly summed up this morning for me.
This is one of thousands of images from RSPB Images - our wonderful online image library stuffed to bursting with inspiring nature images.
Did you catch BBC Autumnwatch last week? The barnacle geese that come to the Solway Firth, all the way from Svalbard in the Arctic Ocean, were the stars of the show.
(you might also remember their amazing cliff-jumping from the BBC's Life Story series)
Our nature reserve at Mersehead - neighbour to the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust's place at Caerlaverock - is a great place to see barnacle geese, and lots of other wildlife.