How to encourage and care for wild birds in the winter
Winter is a tough time for wild birds. They don't hibernate like most animals and have to fend for themselves over the hard, cold months of the winter. There is little natural food around - the ground is frozen, insects are scarce and any autumn berries and seeds essential to garden birds are eventually eaten or destroyed by the weather. The days are also shorter meaning there is less time for them to look for food and the temperatures are so cold that wild birds have to expend extra energy fluffing up their feathers just to stay warm.
Shelter to provide for wild birds
Creating some brush, rock and wood piles provide nooks and crannies for wild birds to hide in.
Roosting baskets (although meant for nesting) can provide some excellent warm shelter.
Dead trees or snags offer places for owls and woodpeckers to make great nesting crevices.
Eaves, porches and overhangs give birds amazing shelter from storms and harsh weather conditions, especially if there are no trees in your garden!
Whether home-made or store bought, a good old fashioned bird box will always help wild birds cope with the winter elements.
How to stop your bird bath from freezing
- Place a light ball on the water in the bird bath (e.g. a squash ball). This can be moved by the softest of breezes and will keep a small amount of water ice-free, even in the most unsavoury conditions
- Line the bird bath with a polythene sheet (e.g. pond liner), overlapping the edge slightly. You will then be able to lift it out along with the ice
- Heated bird baths are an option for anyone wanting a tech solution. You can also try thermostatically controlled immersion heaters
- Move your bird bath to areas of the garden that receive high levels of sunlight
- Or try the old favourite - simply pour hot water on to melt the ice in your bird bath!