Whilst we gathered holly and ivy adorned with purple and red berries to deck our houses for Christmas did we spare a thought for our garden birds. The trees and hedgerows this year are abundant with hips and berries a veritable feast for the birds and wildlife to gorge on.  The Holly trees are full of bright red berries which can only mean one thing, a harsh winter is on the way. If the old wives' tale is true then the bountiful supply of berries means a big freeze will soon set in over Britain.

So how can we help?  By feeding the birds that visit your garden you can help them survive the winter.  Christmas leftovers such as mince pies and fruit cake or unsalted nuts and dried fruit would be a welcome addition to any bird table.  Remember though some birds are shy, by sprinkling grated cheese under bushes the tiny Wrens and Dunnocks will also get to enjoy the feast.

Bird feeders come in a variety of innovative designs available for you to purchase.  From the plastic tubes seen hanging from garden trees and bushes to the all singing all dancing squirrel proof cage that is said to be 100% guaranteed!

Birds must fatten up in the winter to survive the coldest of nights. Whilst our garden birds will appreciate any food we can give them, it’s still important to know what food is right to offer and what to avoid.  “Feed the birds, tuppence a bag.” Sang Julie Andrews in Mary Poppins.  I wonder what was in it? In the next verse she tells us “breadcrumbs!” Not very nutritious at all.   

Windfalls from the autumn are a welcome addition to the table. These can be mixed with dried fruit, a mild cheese and any muesli or oat based cereal you have in the cupboard.  Hanging peanuts still in their shells will not only delight the smaller birds, but allow us to enjoy watching the array of wildlife visiting our garden feeding stations.  To keep our feathered friends happy remember to replenish their food regularly and ensure they have fresh water for drinking and bathing.  By cleaning your bird feeders it will safeguard against disease. 

So as you draw the curtains tonight spare a thought for our feathered friends.

Harry Fisher

Lancing College