Christmas bird table

Treat your garden birds with a Christmas bird table. Here are some suggestions:

1. Sunflower seeds, both shelled and whole. It takes a lot of calories to survive our winter

2. Suet. If you made your own Christmas pudding, you may have suet left over in your fridge; feed it to the birds. You could incorporate it into home made fat balls but just sprinkled onto the bird table it will attract blue tits and great tits.

Goldfinches, long tailed tits and a blue tit.

3. Christmas is a time to try out newly fashionable foods: vegan turkey for you and tiny nyger seeds for the bird table. Nyger is the common name of Guizotia abyssinica, which is imported from Ethiopia and it’s a real treat for our goldfinches. Nyger seed is heat treated before it is let into the country, to prevent germination; let’s not introduce any more alien species.

4. Peanuts: an old favourite around everybody’s Christmas table – but please not salted at the bird table.

5. Fruit! Birds love fresh fruit. Try including some soft bodied fruits on your bird table; try the overripe apples and the pears that nobody ever eats left in your Christmas fruit bowl.

6. Don’t Forget the Ground Feeders. Sprinkle crumbled fat balls or grated cheese and seed beneath the shrubs in your garden for secretive ground feeding birds like wrens and dunnock but be careful of the neighbours predatory cats

Wren and dunnock

7. Fresh Water, especially if there is a frost.

8. Don’t forget the wind chill factor, which plays a significant part in a bird’s choosing where to eat; try to keep your Christmas bird table out of the wind.

9. Shelter is important; birds like to feel safe while they are feeding. Put your bird table close to thick hedges and overhanging trees so that they can hide should there be any danger.

10. Look out for leftovers. Some of our own Christmas food can be good for birds – Christmas cake, stollen or mince pies, dried fruit of all kinds and unsalted nuts.

Header image: great tit; footer image: nuthatch

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