Winter, winter, where can birds find shelter?

Winter, winter, where can birds find shelter?

There's now no denying that winter is here. The leaves have fallen, the temperature dangerously averages 0 degrees in the morning, and if you haven't done it yet, you'll be getting your nice warm winter coats out soon.

Our cats and dogs have nice furry coats that grow thicker in winter, but what about birds? For ducks, geese and swans there is not much we can do in terms of sheltering. Pigeons still do very well without us, but what about robins, blue tits, sparrows and so many more?

Some have left their breeding and feeding grounds to look for warmer places, but with the seasons being all blurry nowadays it is hard for everyone to know where to stand. Since timing is essential for birds – they mustn't leave their feeding ground too early or else they risk starving – giving them a hand to find food is most welcome. Feeding birds in winter is particularly beneficial, since it is this time of year when they are most likely to face food shortages.

Birds also give life to your garden like nothing else. Waking up to chirping birds is lovely, and over half of UK adults feed the birds in their garden.

What birdhouse for what bird?

If you have the right bird feeders and leave food out for birds you can have all year long visits from our fluttering little friends. If you’re new to birdhouses, you need to know that the diameter of the entrance hole of the house will decide what birds will come. Since every species has an average size, a birdhouse will often be valid for a couple different types of birds only. A hole too small or too big will stop birds from entering. If you were a hobbit you wouldn’t want to live in a human house too big and too large for you, would you?

House sparrows and starlings tend to be less picky so if you take the wrong diameter instead of sheltering chaffinches you will only get sparrows. So let’s be careful when you choose birdhouses! You can also check with the RSPB – Royal Society for the Protection of Birds – what birds are more likely to live in your area, so that you don’t try to attract waders if you live in the North of Scotland for instance. You can also check with the British Trust of Ornithology what species are endangered so you can give a hand in helping them survive.

The place where you put the birdhouse is also very important as some birds are “shyer” than others and won’t come if you put it too close to your house. You also need to put it away from predators and their lair, i.e. away from bushes and preferably high above ground, especially if you keep a cat!

With a 2.5cm/1” diameter entrance hole, a nesting house such as this Birdball birdhouse will attract coal tits, marsh tits and blue tits. Our Curved Roof Birdhouse has a hole of 2.8cm/1.1”, big enough for great tits to be able to come into shelter. Our copper roofed birdhouse is suitable for finches, nuthatches and tree sparrows who need a 3.2cm/1.3” hole for access.

If you want to attract any bird without especially wanting to shelter one species, you may want to choose an easier solution to provide food to our tweeting friends and get a seed feeder.

What do birds eat?

Now that you have chosen what type of bird you wanted to attract and you have decided on a birdhouse, you may want to know what to feed your guests.

We tend to think that we can feed bread crumbs to swans and ducks, and feed seeds and worms to any bird, which works most of the time, but birds do have food preferences. Since some of them need to eat almost a third of their own weight every day to fight cold temperatures, if we really want to help them we might as well learn to know what to feed them.

For instance the tree sparrow, which is much rarer nowadays than the house sparrow, feeds mostly on grass, weeds and cereals like wheat and barley, and also on insects such as aphids, flies or beetles.

You can put in your bird feeder sunflower seeds that are favourites for most birds like blue tits, great tits, greenfinches or coal tits. Chaffinches and collared doves will eat any type of seeds. If you put fats in your feeder you will get happy robins, blue tits and great tits. Kitchen scraps will please house sparrows and blackbirds. Dunnocks are a bit more picky, they prefer nyger seeds (great for greenfinches too), sunflower hearts, breadcrumbs and grated cheese. If you have holly or rowan bushes in your garden you may have a quick visit from a mistle thrush. Finally, coal tits will prefer black sunflower seeds – the guilty pleasure of marsh tits – sunflower hearts, and some suet.

If you like DIY you can make your bird house yourselves, otherwise check out our wide range of bird products that will hopefully help you get chirping visitors to warm up the atmosphere in your garden.

Posted by Iconography Ltd
5th December 2012
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