As UK prepares for plunging temperatures, make sure birds don’t get a frosty reception in your garden this winter

Jasmine Granton

Wednesday 29 November 2017

As UK prepares for plunging temperatures, make sure birds don’t get a frosty reception in your garden this winter 

  •  Met Office predict freezing temperatures in some parts of the UK this week
  •  As birds struggle to survive the cold snap, your garden can become a haven this winter
  •  RSPB suggests three simple measures for helping your much loved birds including introducing wildlife friendly food to make your garden inviting for birds
  • Simple tips and tricks can improve your garden birds’ chances of survival throughout the tough winter months 

With the Met Office forecasting a drop in temperature for most of the UK this week, the RSPB is challenging people to turn their gardens into a haven for birds by topping up their feeders, filling up their bird baths and providing shelter for our feathered friends during the frosty weather.

After benefitting from a mild autumn, birds will begin to struggle as the cold snap kicks in and natural food sources start to dwindle. The nature charity says there are three key things that birds will need this winter: food, water and shelter.

To keep their energy up during the colder months, the best way to help your garden birds is by providing them with a variety of food, but fatty food will be especially helpful. For example, fat balls or homemade bird cakes, which only take a few minutes to make and can be a great children’s activity, are perfect for your feathered friends. These can be made cheaply with kitchen scraps and lard. If you prefer, seeds, fruits or dried mealworms are also among birds’ favourite snacks.

Another vital support for vulnerable birds is fresh water for drinking and bathing. Finding sources of water can be hard for birds when there’s been a frost, but with a simple trick you can help to keep a patch of water ice-free. The RSPB recommends floating a small ball, such as a ping-pong ball, on the surface of the water as a light breeze will stop an area of water from freezing.

Finally, providing shelter from the harsh weather is extremely important. By carefully planting dense hedges such as privet or hawthorn, or allowing ivy or holly to grow: you’ll be giving birds a great place to roost in and shelter from the elements. Nestboxes can also make good roosting sites.

RSPB Wildlife Advisor, Claire Thomas said “Throughout the colder months some of our favourite birds, such as blackbirds, robins and blue tits, will be busy desperately searching for food, water and shelter to survive. You can make a real difference to birds in your garden and improve their chances of surviving the winter. Birds don’t need much but by providing a supply of food, a patch of unfrozen water and somewhere to shelter from the elements, you will be rewarded with great views of wildlife in your back garden.”

Ensuring your garden is filled with food now will improve your chances of having a successful Big Garden Birdwatch. Don’t forget, the RSPB’s annual event is on Saturday 27 Sunday 28 and Monday 29 January 2018. To take part, all you need to do is spend one hour at any time over Big Garden Birdwatch weekend noting the number of avian visitors to your garden or nearby park. You can sign up for this year’s Big Garden Bird Watch from December 13.

For more ways to give nature a home in your garden visit,

Last Updated: Tuesday 28 August 2018

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