Feed the birds by opening a bird cafe in your garden

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Feed the birds by opening a bird cafe in your garden

Set your bird table and feeders at least two metres from ground cover so they can’t be ambushed easily by cats

It’s at this time of year, when frosts cover the trees and the garden sleeps, that many people become active birdwatchers. Not the sort that requires sturdy waterproofs, thermal gloves and a hot flask of coffee, but rather the indoor kind, where you’re a silent spectator in a world of flickering wings, birdsong and noisy chatter interrupted only by the occasional, furious but short-lived avian squabble.

Here I share my top 5 tips to have a thriving winter bird watching experience, including Robins and Snow buntings alike.

1) Make a species list of winter birds.

 Do your research first so you can maximise every moment you spend out in winter garden. Grab a bird field guide and jot down the name of every bird species that either resides year-round or winters in your area. Your list will likely to be quite long, and you might be surprised at some of the species that hang out nearby during winter months.

If you want to be extra thorough, take a look at eBird  to see what species have been spotted over the years during winter in your town/city. There could be species not listed in your guide that might turn up during irruption years — this is when species temporarily move into a region it doesn’t normally inhabit.

To make a list may take you some time, but you’ll learn new identification skills, know who to look out for and know who is a surprise visitor.

 2) Bird Feeders.

Food is always a necessity for birds, and they may seek out your backyard if you provide a healthy snack for them. Offer a mix of high-fat foods, such as black oil sunflower seed, thistle seed, peanuts and suet.

In the cold and wet months, ideally use sheltered bird feeders to keep out rain and snow, and place the feeder in an area that won’t take the brunt of the winter weather, such as wind.

Also position either our CATWatch or CATFree ultra sonic deterrent within 12 meters of your feeder will give protection from cats that will be looking for a kill and birds who are feeding is a common threat to your garden bird life.

Remember: bird feeders must be kept clean, routinely change feed to prevent the spread of disease.

3) Provide a reliable water source.

Water is as much a necessity in winter as any other time of year. Its important to keep a dish or bird bath free from of ice, perhaps consider using a bird bath warmer.

Its key in having predictable place to grab a drink will attract birds in the same way as having a predictable snack basket.

4) Head out to a birding sanctuary.

Go beyond your garden to see some of the more interesting species that would never visit an urban area. Check out local preserves, Audubon sanctuaries and wildlife refuges to spot various species of water birds. If you are local to the Capital, the WWT London Wetland Centre and its staff a great at establishing environments to spot birds who normally shy away from human populations.

5) Create a log book for species and behaviours.

Because birds are so much more visible during winter, thanks to a lack of foliage cover, it’s a great time to notice aspects of their behaviour. Improve your naturalist skills by jotting down what the birds are doing. In time, you may discover patterns you never noticed before, or be pulled into a dramatic avian soap opera.

Come Springs arrival, scan through your notes and be surprised at the bird life you’ve witnessed and learned over the last few months!

Bonus tip: Keep your distance.

Birds live on a razor-thin edge of starvation and cold during winter. Even birds that look like round puffballs of warmth are actually mostly feathers and air, puffed up in an effort to maintain their body temperature. So, if you’re watching wild birds either foraging or resting, be sure to keep your distance and let them go about their business.

By doing so will increase your chances of getting to see them again tomorrow.

Posted by Concept Research on 12 Nov 2020

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