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Last modified: 15 January 2013
Robin in snow
Image: Nigel Blake
With sub-zero temperatures suddenly upon us, we're advising people to make sure their bird feeders and tables are full of high-energy foods.
Richard James, one of the RSPB's wildlife advisors, said: 'The sudden drop in temperatures across the UK will have been a big shock to birds' systems after spending the past couple of months with few worries in terms of food availability.
'Thanks to the recent mild weather, many natural food sources have been readily available and water has been easy to come by. Now the snow and ice are here birds will need all the help they can get to survive the winter.'
You can feed birds calorie-rich foods like mixed seed, nyjer seed, fatballs, suet sprinkles, sunflower seeds and good-quality peanuts, as well as kitchen scraps like mild grated cheese, cooked rice and porridge oats.
A supply of water is also essential for bathing and preening. In freezing conditions birds become more dependent on water provided in gardens, since many natural sources are frozen over.
The most effective way to keep the water in your garden from freezing is to pop in a light ball that will be moved by even a gentle breeze and keep a small amount of water ice free – a ping-pong ball is ideal. Alternatively, pour on hot water to melt the ice to make sure the birds can get to it.
Big Garden Birdwatch is back on 26-27 January 2013 - the world's biggest wildlife survey
Richard added: 'With the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch coming up on the weekend of 26 and 27 January, keeping your feeders, tables and bird baths topped-up will not only make sure your garden visitors are well-fed and looked after, it'll also encourage them into your garden just in time for you to take part in the world's biggest wildlife survey.'
Big Garden Birdwatch is back on Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 January 2013, giving people across the UK the chance to be part of the world's biggest wildlife survey. To take part, people are asked to spend just one hour at any time over Big Garden Birdwatch weekend noting the highest number of each bird species seen in their gardens or local park at any one time. They then have three weeks to submit their results to the RSPB, either online or in the post.
The RSPB stocks a range of bird foods and safe, high-quality feeders for your garden birds. All profits go to helping birds and wildlife. Visit the shop website for more information and to buy online.
Find out which birds were the movers and shakers in this year's Big Garden Birdwatch charts.
Find out more