With dropping temperatures, high winds, showers and the threat of snow over high ground, winter is definitely on its way! With our winter migrants making landfall and spreading out across the UK, and with Feed The Birds Day on October 29, now is the perfect opportunity for a quick checklist on the essentials to keep wintering birds happy!

  • Water - birds need to drink on a daily basis and keeping their feathers clean is important to make them effective at keeping out the cold and wet weather. If you provide a bird bath make sure the water is changed regularly and when the frosts come, empty the bath over night and refill in the morining with the addition of a ping-pong ball which should prevent the water from freezing.
  • Supplementary food - Everyone loves to feed birds and over the winter months it can be the difference between life and death for our feathered friends. A variety of seeds, peanuts, fatcakes and suet sprinkles all provide the nutrition birds need. You can also feed porridge oats, raisins, pastry and cooked rice.
  • Natural food - Birds instinctively know what to eat in the natural environment so you can help feed them simply by planting the right trees, shrubs and flowers and managing them in a way that gives birds the chance to eat the fruits, berries and seeds. Leave swathes of grass long over winter, don't cut berry bearing hedges until late winter and if you have any windfall fruit, save it up for hard times later in the year.
  • Hygiene - When birds are feeding close together in gardens they can be vulnerable to spreading disease. We recommend regular cleaning of the bird feeders and bird baths as well as moving the feeding stations around on a regular basis to prevent birds feeding amongst a build up of mess underneath.
  • Shelter - Many birds will gather together in trees to roost but some may venture into nesting boxes including tits and wrens (I think the record is over 60 wrens huddled in the same roost!). If you can put up a few boxes on the house and around the garden, you could be helping the local birds make it through the long cold nights.

With the colder weather arriving, those of you who have been noticing reduced garden bird activity, be prepared for an influx of hungry visitors over the next few weeks!

All this talk of cold and wintry weather is a bit depressing so I thought I would share with you a picture taken from earlier this year when summer was in its prime, got to love a summer swallow!