As the cold weather persists, the RSPB has received an influx of calls from people concerned about their garden birds. From frozen water to a lack of natural food sources, this spell of freezing weather can be catastrophic for birds. So what can you do to help?
You may have noticed as you look out at the white blanket that was once your garden that you’re seeing more birds on the hunt for food. The best way to keep birds’ energy up during this extreme cold spell, is by providing them with fatty food. If your children have a school snow day and are on their fifth hour of CBeebies, making fat balls or homemade bird cakes can be a fun activity to get them away from the TV and involved with nature. If you haven’t been able to get out to buy bird food, kitchen scraps like grated mild cheddar cheese, porridge oats and soaked, chopped currents will be greatly appreciated.
With the Met Office forecasting ‘exceptionally cold’ temperatures for most of the UK this week, callers to the RSPB have also been concerned about providing fresh water to their garden birds. In -6 temperatures, water can be hard to come by. Putting a ping pong ball in your bird bath or bowl of water can stop it from freezing throughout winter but in these extreme conditions, it doesn’t always cut it. If this is the case, providing your garden birds with juicy fruits such as apples or pears can be vital as they contain high levels of moisture.
Another problem facing garden birds during the ‘Beast from the East’ is finding shelter. The RSPB spoke to one concerned caller who had an unusual house guest in the form of a lapwing, who decided the best place to take shelter was the sofa in the living room. However, the RSPB doesn’t advise taking-in garden birds. An alternative is to create some shelter in your garden. If you don’t currently have nest boxes up, a sideways bucket or group of plant pots can provide some much needed respite from the chilling wind.
As we all wrap up warm and enjoy building snowmen, having snowball fights and taking pretty pictures, it’s important to remember that it’s not all fun and games for our garden birds who are counting on us for some much needed support.
Find more advice on what food to provide and how to make your own bird fat cakes here https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/advice/how-you-can-help-birds/feeding-birds/