This year, people have been slower to begin a bird-feeding routine because of the relatively mild weather.
Watching birds’ antics through the window in cold weather can be wonderfully entertaining for children. All you need is a simple feeding station.
Robins and blackbirds find it difficult to hang on to a birdfeeder and much prefer their food on a flat surface or on the ground. If the food is left whole, as in a slice of bread, the crows will descend and scoff everything in one minute. Keep a bowl of suitable scraps and every few days turn it into crumbs, by hand or in the food processor. Sparrows like millet. Crushed peanuts are delicious to robins and the wrens.
Water is as important as food for birds, and it’s great to see birds bathing. In very frosty weather, birds can die of thirst so pour hot water in to the container a few times daily.
Have a basic bird identification guidebook inside the window for the children to examine. Some rare winter visitors, such as the redwing, may turn up. Once begun, it’s important to continue your feeding routine as the birds come to rely upon you. With a bit of luck, some birds may stay to nest and fill the garden with song for the summer. So your goodness to God’s little creatures will not go unrewarded.
To provide a real avian treat, mix breadcrumbs, cake crumbs, grain, seeds and chopped fruit, (the ones past their prime) with melted lard. Let it set in the fridge and then hang in a net somewhere it can be seen by the children. Birds really thrive on fat during cold weather.