We are a nation of bird watchers. From the red breasted Robin to the resident Great Tit, Blue Tit, colourful Goldfinch and Chaffinch, Blackbird, Starlings, Sparrows and more, we can’t get enough of these wonderful creatures.
Small garden birds need to eat regularly, particularly during cold weather when they use up a lot of energy just keeping themselves warm. So now is a great time to put out high-energy, nutritious bird foods containing fats and oils, which will help them maintain their energy levels through the cold winter nights.
It’s also great to have shrubs with berries in your garden, as birds love to feed on the berries and on insects found on berried plants. Attractive shrubs like Cotoneaster and Pyracantha also provide shelter and nesting areas for birds. But berries are not just good for birds – hedgehogs, squirrels, mice, badgers and even foxes will all happily munch on them. Try planting:
- Cotoneaster – red berries in winter followed by delicate white flowers in spring
- Pyracantha – an upright shrub with glossy green leaves & orange-red berries
- Malus Jelly King – a beautiful crab apple tree, ideal for small spaces and, as the name suggests, great for making crab apple jelly too
- Holly – lustrous green leaves and bright red berries
“As well as providing food, berry bearing plants will also bring a splash of colour to your garden when a lot of trees are bare.” said Sarah Squire, Chairman of Squire’s Garden Centres.
“You’ll have striking berries in the winter then beautiful blossom in spring, and some plants have evergreen leaves year-round. Try Pyracantha ‘Saphyr Orange’ which is an upright shrub with glossy green leaves and orange-red berries, or Cotoneaster ‘Cornubia’ which has delicate white flowers in May followed by distinctive red berries in winter.”
How to help birds this winter
- Food – Provide a variety of seeds, nuts, grains, fruits and fats to satisfy the needs of a range of bird species. Put out small amounts of food regularly to ensure that it is always fresh.
- Water – Make sure that birds have access to fresh clean water every day; they will still bathe even in cold weather! Float a small ball on the surface to help prevent the water freezing.
- Shelter – Plant a hedge or add a nesting box. When gardening, don’t be quick to tidy up; leave dead vegetation to stand, which will provide shelter for birds and the insects they feed on.