The UK is taking a real battering of cold weather right now & we are all having trouble staying warm. Imagine being a bird, they are outside all the time. Last night the temperature here in Derbyshire dropped to -10. Thankfully we all have central heating & duvets to get us through the night but our feathered friends need our help more than any other time.
During cold nights small garden birds are at risk of perishing from the cold. They are pretty good at finding shelter but they also need high energy food just when it is most scarce in nature. You may have noticed more birds in your garden as they explore further for food.
You can help garden birds by doing 3 things:
- Leave out plenty of food. If you don’t have bird food they will appreciate apples, soaked dried fruit, grated cheese, suet, soaked oats and cooked rice (don’t add salt).
- Provide water. We have been defrosting our bird bath with hot water about 5–6 times a day & they always flock to it to drink.
- Make some shelters. Upturned plant pots, watering cans, even cardboard boxes will all give them somewhere to get away from the biting wind.
Making Winter Food for Birds
We decided to make some extra fatty food to fuel our Garden Crowd through the night. This is an easy way to give them the nutrients they need.
You will need:
bird food and/or cheese, dried fruits, peanuts
Melt a block of lard & mix in some bird food or you can use whatever appropriate foods you have.
Then get your string ready. It will need to be about 30–40 cm long. Tie a large knot in one end — that is the part which will sit in the fat mixture. Place it in your mould
We used a paper cup as it is easy to get the mixture out once it has hardened you can just cut the cup away. You can use anything which is the right basic size, a small plant pot, kitchen dish, silicon moulds, anything really.
Once the food & fat have been mixed you should hold the string in the mould so that the knot touches the bottom & the string is upright — as in the photo
Then add the food mixture keeping the string upright in the mould, pull it gently if it starts to go to the side. Fill the mould then chill.
Once the lard is hard again you can unmould the food. A paper mould is easy as you can cut it off
Hang the fat food out for your birds to help then survive this cold spell. We were not surprised that the first bird on ours was Alan the robin. Robins are incredibly inquisitive birds & usually the first to explore something new in their territory