Providing Birds with a Winter Haven
With Christmas just around the corner, we can all safely say that winter has finally arrived. Whilst we are all spending time with putting up our Christmas trees, Christmas shopping and cooking mountains of food for the family feast, for wildlife, this is the most difficult time of the year. Many species of garden birds have declined in numbers over the last few decades, and more and more people are now taking much more of an interest in their feathered garden visitors, in order to prevent numbers of birds from going down even more.
Although not the typical time of the year to spend time in your garden, wildlife is a joy to watch, and a shepherd hut is the perfect way to be indoors but still amongst nature. Turning your garden into a relaxing haven for visiting wildlife can have health benefits for you too, as being able to sit outdoors and unwind is both calming and rewarding.
During the winter, birds tend to flock together much more, as this increases their chances of survival. Even birds that are not members of the same species may band together. Not only does this help them to find more food than a lone bird would but is also a very good way to decrease their chance of being caught by a predator – more pairs of eyes means more chance of spotting a threat early and being able to escape.
The winter months create a food problem because not only are the summer and autumn fruits and nuts not as readily available, but also the ground can become too hard on the colder days for the birds that dig looking for worms (such as thrushes and blackbirds) to be able to dig into it. In turn, the cold weather sees other smaller animals that the birds feed on, dig deeper down, and hide in places where the birds can’t get to them as easily.
Some birds will have prepared food during the autumn – Jays do this – they will dig under the ground and store a supply of nuts from the earlier months, when food was plentiful. Smaller birds, such as blue tits, robins, great tits and chaffinches to name but a few. During the hardest months of the year, your garden can be a lifesaving sanctuary for birds.
Leaving food and water out on a daily basis is the most helpful thing that you can do for the birds in the winter – particularly when it is icy, leaving a bowl of un-frozen water will attract many thirsty birds. Seeds, nuts and fat balls are inexpensive and will provide a good meal for many varieties of birds. Remember to regularly top up food and water, as the birds will come to depend on your garden and the food that it provides.