Go wild in your garden!

The RSPB is urging everyone to get outside and get active now to help garden wildlife all through the winter.

The RSPB’s Feed The Birds Day this year falls on 24th October. It’s a gentle reminder that garden wildlife needs our help during the colder months of the year.

The wildlife charity will be hosting over a hundred events to get everyone involved in the annual celebration, which marks the clocks going back and the arrival of winter. And those who get involved can hope to see a rapid jump in the number of birds visiting their garden, no matter what size it is.

In harsh winters, birds like blackbirds, song thrushes, and even exotic waxwings – seasonal visitors from Scandinavia – come closer to our gardens in a search for food.

As well as keeping feeders and bird tables topped up with calorie-rich foods1 , autumn is a great time to put in plants that are good for wildlife.

Late autumn is ideal for planting a berry bearing shrub or a fruit tree. Once mature, rowan, holly and apple trees will be a great source of food for birds such as blackbirds, and thrushes, while robins and starlings will feast on the insects that thrive on them.

And if you plan ahead now and introduce insect-attracting plants , you will be helping the birds come springtime.

House sparrows, for instance, rely on a healthy supply of insects to raise their young. Over the last 25 years, house sparrows have declined by over 60%, and it’s thought a shortage of this insect food may be to blame. Planting nectar-rich flowers and shrubs may help house sparrows successfully raise their young.

As part of this year’s Feed the Birds Day, the RSPB is offering five wildlife gardening
top tips:
— plant native plants such as hawthorn, ivy and honeysuckle that will provide berries in the winter for adult birds, and insects for young birds in spring
— make a log pile – it will be the ideal place for insects, fungi, mosses and lichens
— provide an insect home – insects will spend the winter in these
— install nesting boxes for birds such as sparrows, winter hibernation places for hedgehogs, and roosting boxes for bats
— create a water feature such as a pond or bog garden as much wildlife relies on a regular supply of freshwater

Richard Bashford, Feed The Birds Day manager, said: “We think that everyone will easily be able to find something they can do to help birds regardless of the outdoor space they have. It doesn’t matter if it’s a large or a small garden, community garden, balcony or allotment, there are options for everyone.”

To help people find out more about garden birds and what can be done to help them, the RSPB is holding over a hundred Feed The Birds Day events during the weekend of 24/25 October. There will be family fun events all over the UK with activities such as bird cake making, nest box building, nature trails and face painting. More information will be available at www.rspb.org.uk/feedthebirds

Richard Bashford, Feed The Birds Day manager 01767 693516

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