There must be few things as rewarding as looking after the birds in your garden. This garden has lots to attract them, and as I write a glossy blackbird is lunching on the bright red pyracantha berries outside the kitchen window. Goldfinches, blue tits and sparrows are jostling for space at the bird feeder, occasionally swooping down to the water bowl. The wise little robin – my absolute favourite – who doesn’t love the robin? – has just landed on the edge of the raised bed, where the snowdrops will be showing in a few week’s time, and eyed me through the window, as though to say, “I know you’re talking about me”.
They reward me not just with glorious birdsong and their always entertaining company, but by hoovering up greenfly and snacking on snails and slugs, keeping those pests from ruining my plants. As winter starts to bite, spare a thought for these tiny creatures and leave some food and water out for them, if you can. A simple hanging feeder with peanuts is always appreciated, as are fat balls or cakes, to help them keep their energy up in cold wintry weather. If you have the time, all manner of lovely seeds and garden bird food is available in shops and garden centres.
When it’s been dry for a while, which happens even in winter, and icy weather, they can run out of water, so a bowl of fresh water will be very welcome. A water bowl or bird bath can make a lovely feature in the garden, but mine was frozen over on many occasions last winter, and I had to leave out a little container every day to keep them going.
Whatever you do, if you start to feed the birds in your garden, please keep it up, as if they find a source of food they will return hopefully to it again, and if you forget to keep the feeder topped up they will go away, not just disappointed and hungry, but weakened. At this cold time of year the energy in each tiny feathered body gets used very fast, and they can use up a lot of precious energy on a fruitless flight to an empty feeder. Look after them, if you can, and they will repay you many times over, bringing colour and cheer to your garden.
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