Garden Birds in Winter - Edd Cottell

Garden Birds in Winter

Winter is a fantastic time to watch birds in your own garden.  Birds burn alot more of their fat reserves to keep warm and stay alive, especially during the long Winter nights.  As their natural food sources deplete, more birds than usual head to gardens for sustenance.

On a side note, I find it bonkers that hedgerows are cut just before Winter, needlessly destroying vital food stores for our wildlife.  Imagine all your local shops destroyed and the nearest one was a 1000 miles away, your only option would be to move until they rebuild, as its a waste of resources to keep driving there.  Providing food in Winter is vital, but I can't help think that if we managed our environment correctly, we wouldn't have to provide as much food as we do.  Please wait until Winter is nearing it's end before cutting those hedges, our wildlife must feed too.

Anyway, back to the garden.  We put out a range of food, including Sunflower hearts, Niger seed, Peanuts, suet, fat balls, and mealworm.  By far the most popular are the Sunflower hearts.  When the temperature drops close to zero and below, we usually go through 5Kg of Sunflower hearts a week, on top of all the other food!  We also have a couple of apple trees which were laden with fruit this year.  This attracted two of my favourite birds; Blackcap and Fieldfare.  The Blackcap were a welcome surprise as they are normally Summer visitors, but with an adequate food supply, will over Winter here.  The Fieldfare are Winter visitors and mostly stay in the fields eating worms, but usually a few pop into the garden and feast on the apples, giving great views.

And so to the RSPB's Big Garden Bird Watch, an annual survey of the birds in your garden or local park.  It gives an indication of species and their numbers year to year; citizen science at its finest!  Our garden is dominated by Greenfinch.  We counted 35, all vying for position on the Sunflower hearts feeder!  Blackbird came in second with 10 and Redpoll at third with 7.  All in all, we counted 18 species, including the above, we saw Goldfinch, Woodpigeon, Jackdaw, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Robin, Dunnock, Wren, Magpie, Chaffinch, Long Tailed Tit, Coal Tit, Great Spotted Woodpecker, House Sparrow, and Nuthatch.  Not a bad showing for an hour.

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