Having a ball
WATCHING birds on the feeders in my garden is one of my favourite things to do. But while I’m tucked up warm inside our birds need all the help they can get on cold, winter days. Happily, buying bird food from Vine House Farm benefits our wider countryside as well our garden birds.
Vine House Farm in Lincolnshire has long been a supporter of The Wildlife Trusts. Over the years they’ve donated more than £1million from their sales to The Wildlife Trusts, helping us to do more to protect our precious local wildlife.
Nicholas Watts, owner of Vine House Farm, says “As keen lovers of wildlife and the natural world, we manage our farm with the environment in mind and we’ve won conservation awards for it too.”
Much of the bird food they sell, such as red and white millet, canary seed and oats, is grown on the farm.
They also process and pack virtually all the seeds and seed mixes on the farm as well, giving an extra environmentally-friendly element to their products.
Suet products give birds a much needed high energy boost, which is essential for their survival at this time of year when it’s cold and frosty.
Birds need plenty of saturated fat, so suet and lard are ideal.
Don’t put out oil or cooking juices from your roast though, the juices can quickly go off or cover their feathers. But grated, mild, hard cheese is a good source of fat and protein for birds.
Sunflower seeds are eaten by more species, including blackbirds, song thrushes and robins, than any other bird food. Vine House Farm is one of the few farms in the UK which grows sunflowers and now grows more than 160 acres of them each year.
Peanuts are rich in oils and proteins and a favourite for blue tits, great tits, nuthatches and great spotted woodpeckers.
Nuthatches are a real treat to see on a bird feeder, with their ‘Zorro-style’ black eye mask and their acrobatics as they feed upside down.
Make sure that you choose unsalted and unroasted nuts.
Don’t forget to put out fresh water for birds to drink too, and check it’s not turned to ice after a cold night. Birds will also use the water to bathe which helps to keep their feathers in tip top condition.
When the weather warms up why not add some extra plants to your garden which will provide extra food for birds next winter.
Trees and shrubs such as hawthorn, rowan and holly provide plenty of berries in winter. Sunflowers, teasel and ivy are good sources of seeds or berries for birds too. Save dead-heading and pruning until late in the winter so that birds can make the most of your garden stores.
FEEDERS: Attract flocks of long-tailed tits to your garden with a plentiful supply of fat balls and seeds AMY LEWIS
BATH TIME: Put out fresh water for birds to use for drinking and bathing, which helps keep their feathers in good condition PHOTO: MARGARET HOLLAND