Lard, ping-pong balls and holly feature on birds’ Christmas list
The temperature is expected to plummet over the next few weeks with ice and snow spreading across the country, and birds that have benefited from a mild autumn will begin to struggle as the weather changes. The RSPB is asking people to top up their bird feeders and provide fresh water and shelter for wildlife in their gardens during the frosty weather.
The nature charity says there are three key things that birds will need this winter: food, unfrozen water and shelter.
|Blackcap eating fatcake|
|Grey wagtail on garden pond|
2) Unfrozen water for drinking and bathing may be hard for birds to find when there’s been a frost, but with a simple trick you can help to keep a patch of water ice-free. The RSPB recommends floating a small ball, such as a ping-pong ball, on the surface of the water. Even the lightest breeze will keep it moving and stop an area of the water freezing.
|Fieldfare and song thrush on pyracantha|
Chris Collett from the RSPB in Northern England said: “People can make a real difference to garden birds and improve their chances of surviving the winter. Birds don’t need much and by providing a supply of food, a patch of unfrozen water and somewhere to shelter from the elements, you will be rewarded with great views of wildlife in your back garden.”
Chris added: “At this time of year it’s also worth pointing out that while birds need fatty foods, you shouldn’t put out fat from a roasting tin, such as turkey fat on Christmas day, as this runny fat can coat birds’ feathers, making it difficult for them to move or fly.”
The RSPB’s annual Big Garden Birdwatch, the world’s biggest wildlife survey, returns on Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 January 2015. To take part, people are asked to spend just one hour at any time over Big Garden Birdwatch weekend noting the highest number of each bird species seen in their gardens or local park at any one time. They then have three weeks to submit their results to the RSPB, either online at www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch or in the post. The Big Garden Birdwatch in 2014 revealed that house sparrows were the most recorded birds despite their falling numbers, and for the first time great spotted woodpeckers appeared in the top twenty. The full results can be viewed online at rspb.org.uk/birdwatch
The RSPB offer a large selection of bird food and feeders in their online shop rspb.org.uk/shop