Helping our feathered friends and other wildlife in small gardens can be very rewarding, in winter providing a regular supply of of food is a great way of not only getting close to nature at home but also really helps birds and animals get through the cold months when their natural food is sometimes scarce.
Putting up bird feeders is a great way to start, if Squirrels visit your garden it is best to buy types designed to deter them, either with a strong cage built around or a mechanism that stops them getting to the food, they are capable of chewing through and damaging most others.
When choosing where to put the feeders try to site them near a hedge, bushes or small trees. Sparrowhawks are often attracted to feeding birds so giving them cover to dash into will really help, it may take some time for birds to start using the feeders but will visit regularly once they find them.
Putting out different types of feed will encourage a variety of birds, Sunflower Seeds, Peanuts and Fat balls are the most popular. Nyjer seed might attract very colourful Goldfinch, Greenfinch and occasionally Siskins and Redpolls. If you have fruit trees in your garden windfalls can be left to provide another source of food.
It is very important to regularly clean your feeders, take them apart and wash thoroughly using a mild disinfectant if you have one, peanuts can go soft and mouldy at the bottom of feeders so it’s a good idea to only part fill them and shake up every few days.Try to keep the area around your feeders clean to deter rodents.
The commonest birds are the Tit family, Robins, Blackbirds, Starlings, Sparrows and Collared Doves, you may also get Greenfinch, Chaffinch and Woodpeckers. You can also help to support other wildlife by planting flowers for Bees & Butterflies, buying or making your own Bee boxes, leaving small piles of branches and sticks in a quiet corner of your garden, or even making a shelter for Hedgehogs. Links to all these can be found below.