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What to do in autumn to help birds in the garden

What to do in autumn to help birds in the garden

The weather is cooler and probably wetter, but for now there should still be warmer spells. Most wildlife has little time to appreciate the changing of the leaves, a red leaf is a warning sign.

A birdbath can be a vital source of drinking water for birds, especially during the coming winter months when natural water sources can freeze over. Ensure that your birdbath is kept topped up. Models are available to attach to windows, walls and sills, if you are limited for space.

Do be aware of hygiene: change the water regularly and scrub the bath out with a mild detergent (available from bird food suppliers) to help prevent the spread of disease.


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There is a huge range of birdfoods available on the market, but household scraps and fallen fruit from the garden will do just as well. Choices include wildbird seed mixes, black sunflower seeds (the birds will remove the outside casing, and the inner seed is soft), mild grated cheese, sultanas, raisins and currants (best soaked overnight), pinhead oatmeal, apples, pears and other fresh fruits from the garden (blemished ones are fine), mealworms and waxworms. Alternatively, you can buy fat balls from garden centres and bird food suppliers.

To maximise the numbers of different bird species that you attract to your garden, it is a good idea to cater to their different feeding habits. Hanging bird feeders attract species such as finches, tits and sparrows. There are many models available, designed to help keep out rats, cats, pigeons and squirrels, or to fit onto walls, windows, windowsills and balconies.

Bird tables attract robins, house and tree sparrows, doves, pigeons, bullfinches, greenfinches, chaffinches and bramblings. Food scattered on the ground, and leaf piles full of sheltering insects, attract blackbirds, thrushes, dunnocks and wrens.

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Hanging bird feeders are best sited over a paved or decked area, which can be regularly swept clear of debris. This may reduce problems with squirrels and vermin, if they prove a nuisance.

Bird tables are best sited a few feet clear of cover or high vegetation, so that cats and other predators cannot launch themselves onto unsuspecting feeding birds. Tables can be quite close to windows or patios, as many birds get used to human activity, and are not put off by us.


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