Here's how to help birds survive the winter in your garden

People in Sussex can make their gardens bird-friendly this winter with a series of simple steps.

Picture by Mark Couper
Picture by Mark Couper

Easy changes can be made to create a haven for winged wildlife during the colder months, say experts at

A spokesman said: “From keeping birds fed and watered to helping them stay sheltered, it should be easy for kind homeowners to support the needs of British birds this winter.

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“Birds can survive and thrive in frosty backyards if helpful hints, such as providing fatty foods and adequate cover in foliage, are followed.

Picture by Mark Couper

“You don’t have to be an avid bird-watcher to appreciate the beauty of the creatures that fly into your garden on a daily basis.

“But if homeowners and gardeners fail to embrace the needs of these animals during the colder months, they will at best be discouraged from visiting and at worst begin to struggle for survival.

1 - Keep them fed

Garden birds will be thankful for additional food outside throughout the year but this becomes a crucial lifeline for some when the temperature drops.

Chose food that is high in fat to help birds stave off the cold and remember to replenish supplies regularly throughout the colder months, as they may come to depend on human supply.

Forgetting to top up feeders or leave something out for too long during the winter could leave birds in a perilous position, but don’t attract vermin by providing excessive amounts of food in one go.

Specialised fat blocks, designed with birds in mind, can be brought to put in wire cages, or made at home with suet and an appropriately holed mould.

Nuts, seeds, grains or pre-made bird mixes will also be a tasty treat and help birds to maintain a balanced diet over the winter.

Bacon rind, cheese, uncooked fruit – even cake and other kitchen leftovers – can provide extra nourishment for a range of birds during winter scarcity.

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Planting winter-flowering bushes or trees, such as ivy for new year fruit, could be extra special source of berried treasure and have grateful birds frequently flocking to a garden.

2 - Help them shelter

Hedges, trees and other shrubbery can provide birds with an precious safe haven from predators, to rest or build a nest.

Well-made wooden bird boxes can also provide a much-needed improvement where natural shelter becomes sparse during winter.

Sometimes called nest boxes, they can be free standing, attached to fences or trees and also be a great breeding ground when the weather starts to warm up slightly.

3 - Let them drink

If the garden environment can’t cater for a small pond, then providing a water feature, bird bath or even a small bowl or dish – that is freshly supplied often – will give birds with a vital source of clean and safe hydration.

This becomes of even greater importance if the temperature drops below zero and local natural sources of water begin to freeze over, blocking small birds’ access.

It is important to clean any container that water is stood in for birds, to avoid bacteria growing and harming any thirsty creatures.