Winter is a tough time for birds. Food is not as plentiful as it was and can often be buried below the icy cold ground. Whilst you are tucking into your Christmas turkey, spare a thought at this time of year for the garden birds and how you can help them. Setting up a bird table is easy and not too expensive, and bird seed can be purchased from most supermarkets. It is very rewarding to sit and watch the birds throughout the year – a great way to get the most of the bird watching potential in your garden is to create a garden office, or room in your back garden – have a look at http://www.gardenspaces.co.uk/ for ideas. Below are a few birds that you might be lucky enough to welcome into your garden…
Blackbird – The male of the species is the most recognisable, as the female is a dark brown colour, sometimes spotted or striped, it is the male that the bird gets its name from – a handsome jet black bird with bright orange beak. They feed on worms, berries, and insects.
Song Thrush – This pretty garden visitor is slightly larger than a blackbird, and is recognisable by its spotted chest and stomach area. They can be found anywhere there are hedgerows, so if you have a hedge in your garden they are likely to come. They eat snails, so they are a welcome visitor to the homes of keen gardeners!
Chaffinch – Another handsome little fellow, chaffinches are a lot smaller than thrushes and blackbirds, but are very striking little birds. It is actually the most colourful of the finches of the UK with the male as usual in the bird world being the most brightly coloured. When it flies however, you will notice on both males and females a flash of white on the back. They feed on insects and seeds so you will probably notice them hopping about on the floor.
Blue Tit – The Blue tit’s bright blue and yellow plumage makes this bird one of the most recognisable. They are a real spectacle to watch when a group of them descends on the garden bird table, especially in the winter where family groups join up to create one group in search of food. Another bird that is a friend to gardeners as they feed on pesky lettuce eating caterpillars!
Starling – These birds are smaller than blackbirds, and on closer inspection are not just pure black like a blackbird, but have a shiny topcoat appearing purple or green in certain lights. These birds are very noisy and usually travel in large flocks so you will certainly notice a group of these in your garden! One of the most spectacular sights in the winter sky is a group of starlings, travelling in such a large flock that they can appear as a plume of smoke from afar.