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Day 4: Remember the birds

Posted: Monday 28th December 2015 by Community

In December the fruits and berries of autumn begin to dwindle, and as the temperature drops it becomes increasingly difficult for birds to find food and water. With water frozen, and any remaining food potentially hidden under a layer snow or ice the countryside becomes a cold desert. But it's easy to do your bit in your garden to help wildlife through the tough winter months!

Why not make a bird feeding winter wreath?

A bird seed wreath is a great alternative Christmas wreath that you can hang in your garden for the birds - here's how we made our Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust one!

You will need

  • twigs, willow or hazel to make a hoop
  • pine cones
  • lard
  • holly/mistletoe/yew/greenery from the garden
  • floristry wire or string
  • bird seed
  • dried aprocots
  • sultanas
  • grated cheese/breadcrumbs

Method

Twist the willow into a hoop and use the wire to secure if needed. If you use it soon after cutting it will be bendy enough to twist around itself and weave the ends in.

Attach the floristry wire around the pinecones, leaving enough to tie them on to the hoop.

Mix the lard, bird seed, sultanas and grated cheese/breadcrumbs together into a pliable mix and squash into the pine cones and attach them to the hoop.

Thread the apricots and sultanas onto a piece of wire into 'flowers' and attach to the hoop.

Finally add some greenery, even holly and mistletoe if you have it in your garden, to offer the blue tits, great tits and the finches some cover whilst they feed. You will also notice thrushes and blackbirds will pick up the bits that are dropped to the ground too.

Finally tie a piece of string to the hoop and hang it in your garden to enjoy!

Don't

  • Don't put out bread, it's filling but lacks nutrition.
  • Don't put out salted foods, particularly salted nuts such as peanuts!
  • Don't put salt or sugar into water to prevent it from freezing.
  • It might sound obvious, but don't use anti-freeze to prevent freezing of ponds or bird baths - it is highly toxic.
  • Don't put food or water near shrubs or other cover which could conceal predators.
  • Don't put water out which is too deep, and make sure there are ramps to get out should something fall in and need to climb out.

Do

  • Break ice every morning,  or put out a fresh bowl of water so that birds and other wildlife can grab a drink.
  • Put a ping pong ball or part filled bottle into ponds to help prevent complete freezing of the water.
  • Put out apple, pears or other soft fruits - as well as providing food it also provides a natural water source, 
  • Clean out feeders regularly to prevent the build up of bacteria which might cause disease.
  • Put out food containing saturated fats to help wildlife keep warm through the long cold winter nights.
  • Put out left overs which are low in salt - christmas pudding, mince pies, cooked rice, vegetables, cheese or other left overs will all be welcomed.
  • Put up new bird boxes and clean out old ones for smaller birds to roost in over night.
  • Keep feeders topped up, in winter months, wildlife becomes reliant on regular food supplies such as these.

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