A regular column from the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust’s Rachel Shaw.
Now the weather has turned cold and frosty you may see a greater variety of small birds in your garden.
Look out for flocks of long-tailed tits with their distinctive tails and soft pinky-white plumage, and coal tits with a black cap and patch of white on the back of the neck.
Winter can be tough for these small birds. The days are short, so there isn’t much time to look for food, and the nights are cold and long.
As natural sources of food in the countryside begin to run out, many birds move into town and city gardens searching for food.
What you can do
Putting out food for birds in your garden can make a big difference to their survival.
• In the coldest weather fat balls are a great source of food and providing foods such as sunflower seeds will ensure your garden is popular with greenfinches, chaffinches and goldfinches as well as blue tits and great tits.
• Robins like to feed on the ground or on bird tables rather than from the hanging feeders.
• Try putting out fruit cake crumbs and the broken biscuits from the bottom of the tin, grated cheese, pastry, roast potatoes cold and cut up, dried fruits and over ripe fruit.
A few things that you need to remember
• Never feed birds any food that is salty (such as bacon, peanuts and chips), mouldy, spicy or alcoholic;
• Soak dry bread or cake in water before putting it out;
• Regularly clean bird feeders and bird tables to prevent the build-up of old food which may spread disease;
• And only put out enough food for one day or you could attract mice or rats.
Natural bird foods
There is also great satisfaction to be had from providing birds in your garden with natural food you have grown yourself.
Simple things like leaving seeds on lavender, marjoram and other flowers will mean the birds can feed naturally during the autumn and winter months.
Thick garden hedges and shrubs, preferably native varieties such as hawthorn, blackthorn and holly, will provide food as well as safe shelter for nesting and hiding from predators.