How your garden can help red-listed birds

Guide
A house sparrow on a thorn bush

Last week’s news that the UK’s red list for birds now stands at 70 species and is double the length of the first review in 1996 was shocking. But there are simple, important things you can do to help.

A house sparrow on a thorn bush

Easy wins for nature

You may have spotted several of the birds on the red list – starlings, greenfinches, linnets, house sparrows or even a mistle thrush – in your own garden. Freezing conditions recently may have forced hungry fieldfares into your garden, hoping to find food. Springtime may bring swifts and house martins to your neighbourhood from as far away as South Africa.   

"You may have spotted several of the birds on the red list – starlings, greenfinches, linnets, house sparrows or even a mistle thrush – in your own garden."

Topping up a bird bath, putting up a nest box or swift box and filling up bird feeders can help some of the UK’s most endangered birds survive.  

At this point in winter much of the natural food supply will have been used up. So with the weather now turning dramatically for much of the UK, birds are moving into gardens for food, water and shelter. You can help these beautiful visitors get through the cold snap by putting out fruit like apples and pears and calorie-rich foods like mixed seed, sunflower seed, nyjer seed and good quality peanuts.  

"...with the weather now turning dramatically for much of the UK, birds are moving into gardens for food, water and shelter"

Making your own bird cakes or fat balls will provide an excellent full-fat winter food. Make sure you avoid dried coconut, salted, mouldy and greasy food (cooking fat ruins feather waterproofing) as they are dangerous for birds.  

Saving nature starts at home

How about putting things to help make your garden wildlife friendly onto your Christmas list?  

Birds need nesting and roosting sites, they need song perches, and many require insects, worms, berries and other natural food in their diet. So, think about boosting the habitat in your outside space this year. Have you got space for a tree - a fruit tree such as an apple, cherry or crab apple is a great choice. Making these little improvements can really tip the balance in nature's favour. 

Greenfinches are in serious trouble but together we can help stop the spread of disease by cleaning feeding stations at least once a week.