Hav­ing a ball

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - COMMUNITY -

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

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