Feeding garden birds in winter

by Pippa Greenwood

The soil here is rock solid [...] Now, I'd need to use an ice axe, rather than a fork if I wanted to plant anything.

Close-up of a gardener filling a bird food dispenser, in a snow-covered gardenThe soil here is rock solid. Fortunately, I planted the last of the garlic last week, before temperatures plummeted. Now, I'd need to use an ice axe, rather than a fork if I wanted to plant anything.

I answered the door recently to a courier, who was rather amused to find me wearing a very large woolly jumper, two chunky scarves and a hot water bottle strapped around my middle (I've been suffering from an extremely sore lower back, as well as from the cold, and this really does help to relieve the discomfort).

But if I'm still cold beneath so many layers, I shudder to think how the poor birds must be faring. Their tiny, almost flesh-free legs must be frozen. I do what I can for them, and my bird table is currently laden with large quantities of crushed peanuts, and liberal helpings of bird seed. Every foot or so, along the top of the hedge, I've placed apple halves and mushy pear, interspersed with cereal bowls full of water. They also have access to a small plate of boiled rice, so hopefully they won't go hungry, and their energy levels can be maintained.

I still can't help but worry about them, but at least I feel like I'm doing my bit. Perhaps I should knit them some bird socks?

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Gardeners' World Web User 01/12/2010 at 15:07

That's some image, Pippa - birds in home-knitted socks! But I do agree we need to take care of the birds. They are the gardener's best friends. My garlic will be sown in pots, which i will do at the kitchen table, covered with plastic. Needs must in this weather. I do hope this bitter weather will mean a wonderful spring like we had last year.

Gardeners' World Web User 02/12/2010 at 09:47

I've just put some food out for birds,on old plates.They seem nervous of them, even the pigeons are skirting round the plates, which are dark red, cream with a blue rim, white with orange and green patterns and blue with red/orange patterns. Are the colours putting them off?

Gardeners' World Web User 02/12/2010 at 17:20

hi,, ive been increasing the amount of food i put out for the birds,yesterday i brought some little suet nibbles for the bird [wild fruit flavour] and do you know my birds will not eat them ....'why'... the only thing eating them are our little grey friends...[squirrels].

Gardeners' World Web User 02/12/2010 at 18:56

Hi I've just topped up my bird feeders today but i've only had two little blue tits come.how do i entice a variety of birds?

Gardeners' World Web User 03/12/2010 at 13:58

I have two ways to help birds in Winter: 1, Buy some packs of cheap lard, (27p at my local supermarket)leave it to soften & mix it with a high-energy seed & dried mixed fruit if I have it. Press this into plastic pots & leave it to set. Each day I tap out one or two onto the bird table or ground - cleared of snow. The lard is great as wild birds need to eat 1/2 their body weight in food every day to survive. Understandable, with overnight sub-zero temp's. I'm suprised they don't freeze solid. 2, Replenish bird baths & plastic plant pot sourcers with lukewarm water twice a day. Home-made birdcake works-out at a fraction of the price of even the cheapest equivelant from shops.

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