Robin sitting in a Rowan tree among red berries

Eleanor Clarke


January is a Great Time to Look After Birds

Before we get to the practical stuff, which will give birds a helping hand over the coldest and leanest months of the year, let’s remember how they cheer up our lives for the rest of the year. Forget grey skies and snow, and fast forward to the fabulous dawn choruses of spring, the nostalgic wheeling, squealing of swifts and swallows in summer, and that cute little robin who joins us, picking out the worms while we’re digging.

We think they’re definitely worth helping out, so we’ve made things simple with our top three tips for winter bird SOS. 

Provide ice-free water

Drinking water can be hard for birds to find in winter, and bird baths and ponds can freeze over. If you float a small ball on top of the water – a ping pong ball is perfect – the lightest of breezes keeps it moving, and the water stays ice-free.

Make bird cakes

This one’s really quite fun, so give it a go! Take a yogurt pot, make a hole in the base and thread through a length of twine. Tie this to a twig 2-3 times the diameter of the pot (this will be a perch for the birds). Mix together suet or lard (cut into small pieces), some proper bird seed, grated cheese, raisins and peanuts, until it holds together. Pack it into the pot, pull the string taut so the twig is flush against the rim of the pot, then leave to set in the fridge. Remove the pot and hang somewhere cats won’t be able to reach. 

Light blue Bird Nesting Station with pointy metal roof on a wooden beam

Give them a home

The best homes for birds are dense hedges, such as hawthorn or privet, but we don’t all have these in our gardens. Being less tidy in the garden is really helpful, so let ivy grow, as it provides great cover. Put up nest boxes, as high as you can, and certainly away from the reach of cats.

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