I`m a great believer in the benefits of engaging with nature and its so easy as it is all around us. Bringing birds in closer proximity to ourselves by providing bird feeders on our balconies, in our backyards or gardens is one of the simplest and most affordable methods of being close to nature. Indeed you don`t have to even leave your home, just look out the window! If you live in a communal environment think about having a communal feeder or placing one in your local green area.

Feeding birds in London accelerated into being a common activity at the end of the 19th century when the city experienced a spate of severe winters. It was unfortunately a frequent experience to see birds that had succumbed to the severe cold and the sharing of bread became a regular pastime in London`s parks and on the London Bridges.

Now our winters are much milder and feeding birds is more about our enjoyment and engagement with nature rather than bird survival. Foods for wild birds have become more sophisticated and healthier than crumbs from our stale loaves. Here`s some top tips to get involved with bird feeding:

1. FOOD

Nuts and seeds are the most popular form of food for feeders. Start off with peanuts and /or black sunflower seed avoiding anything that is salted. Fat balls are another form of food particularly favoured by many species and consider using bruised fruit to attract blackbirds and thrushes. Remember avoid bread being the only food source.

2. DON`T FORGET THE WATER

It may sound simple but often we forget to have a supply of water for them. This does not have to be an expensive bird bath, a simple container on the ground / in the borders will suffice or a saucer on the balcony.

3. YOUR PETS

If you own a cat, a little bell round the collar is often sufficient warning for birds that a predator is near. However when chicks become fledglings they are particularly vulnerable. They are not as nimble and fleet footed as their parents, so take extra care if you know that nests are present close to your feeders.

4. HYGIENE

Clean the feeders once a month by soaking in boiling water. Birds can be affected particularly by salmonella and canker from other bird`s faeces.

5. GET A BOOK

Now you are seeing more birds, identify them, get to know more about their habits and how you may attract other species. Watching the birds can be mesmeric, magical and therapeutic; don`t be surprised if you switch off and be transported into another world, good luck!

Take part in the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch which is every year at end of January. In 2019 it is 26 - 28 January.

 

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