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Winter visitors to your garden

When the days get shorter and winter sets in, everyone looks forward to a nice warm house.

So why not make life a little easier for birds during the winter? There are simple, uncomplicated ways of doing this. Hanging up bird feeders and erecting bird boxes can help many birds.

Opinions about bird boxes, however, vary considerably as winter is considered to be a part of natural selection. However, the food supply for birds has reduced greatly in recent years since the use of pesticides has resulted in fewer insects for them to feed on. For this reason, moderate feeding is recommended in winter and can be considered as a contribution towards maintaining the diversity of species.

The right place for a bird box or bird feeder.

Once you have decided to feed birds in the winter, a few questions will come to mind. For example, what's the best place to put a bird box? There are several options; you can place a bird box in the garden itself, fix it to a tree or attach it to the wall of your house. If you want to put a bird box on a tree you should make sure that it is not on the side exposed to the weather so that it is protected from bad weather conditions and rain. Since birds are not troubled by close contact with people, provided they are left in peace, so a bird box can also be fixed to the wall of your house overlooking a patio or balcony. Cat owners: If you have an upright bird table and want to place it on your lawn, ensure that it is positioned next to bushes or shrubs so that in the event of a moggy attack the bird can quickly find refuge in their branches.

What food is best?

Not all food is suitable for feeding birds. Naturally, only food that is appropriate for the species in question should be provided and the chosen food should give the birds all the nutrients they need. Different birds prefer different types of food depending on the type of beak they have. A distinction is made here between birds which prefer nectar and those which prefer seed. The birds will take the food which is most suitable for their beak. 

Soft food consists primarily of fruit, e.g. apple. When it comes to seed, you can supply wild bird seed mixes available from the supermarket or hardware garden centre. It is best to put food out early in the morning or in the late afternoon so that the animals can make up for their energy consumption during the night.

Cleaning your bird box or bird feeder

Bird boxes/feeders must always be hygienic. This means that regular cleaning is extremely important. Always offer a clean source of water. if you want to provide water, it is important to make sure that the water receptacle is not so big that the birds are able to bathe in it. Less experienced young birds in particular would jump at the chance of a risky dip, but this may cool their body temperatures too much, and they may drown. Place a large stick across the water or, place stones in the bottom of the water receptacle. 

If you provide bird boxes on trees or upright bird tables, you may find that the odd possum takes advantage of your hospitality. If you also want to cater for the dietary requirements of these animals put out pieces of apple to fill them up and provide them with important nutrients. If you observe all of these points, nothing will stand in the way of you enjoying a lovely winter in the company of other creatures.

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