Gar­den birder

Feed­ing your gar­den vis­i­tors through­out win­ter is not only good for their health and well-be­ing – it can make you feel a whole lot bet­ter, too!

Bird Watching (UK) - - Contents - CLARE HOWCUTTKELLY

How feed­ing your gar­den birds can give you the feel­good fac­tor

In win­ter, many of us are prone to Seasonal Af­fec­tive Dis­or­der – the lack of light can make us feel more in­clined to stay in bed and con­sume large amounts of carbs. As a girl with Ir­ish roots, I would eat pota­toes ev­ery day in ev­ery way, and I would not be sorry. The darker evenings can make it feel like you’re wear­ing a cloud on your head and if you’re try­ing to spot birds out of the win­dow, you’re go­ing to find it quite a chal­lenge. The win­dow of op­por­tu­nity for watch­ing birds is nar­rower, which makes it all the more won­der­ful when you see one steal­ing a berry from your bushes, as I did when I at­tempted to dig over a veg bed last week. Dur­ing the colder months, our gar­den wildlife needs us to go shop­ping more and it’s been re­ported that even dur­ing pe­ri­ods of re­ces­sion,

wild bird food sales re­main rel­a­tively un­af­fected. There is so much choice that it can be over­whelm­ing if you don’t know who you’re cater­ing for and what their di­etary re­quire­ments are. On a re­cent visit to the lo­cal coun­try stores (we didn’t have one of these when I lived in Lon­don), I saw, over the boxes of fly-par­a­site

prepa­ra­tions, a re­ally at­trac­tive man ma­neou­ver­ing a trol­ley. Stacked within the trol­ley were huge bags and tubs full of meal­worms, sun­flower hearts and fat balls. “What a lovely man,” I thought, “he must run an an­i­mal sanc­tu­ary,” but wondering was not enough. I needed to know what he was do­ing with it all.

“Wow, that’s a lot of bird food you’ve got there,” which of course, was not a sur­prise to him but was bet­ter than say­ing “like the birds do you then?”. As he lifted the boxes onto the counter, I watched the till flash up – 25kg of peanuts (£35), 12kg of niger seeds (£28), 20 suet blocks (£1 each) and still, it kept com­ing. By the time he had fin­ished, I saw the to­tal amount he had spent to­talled nearly £200. He was fast be­com­ing my new hero. He tells me that no, he doesn’t run a sanc­tu­ary but is stock­ing up for win­ter and that I look nice. I lied about the last part and be­ing as I am stand­ing in the queue with my other half, prob­a­bly for the best. I want to ask him fur­ther ques­tions about whether feed­ing the birds makes him happy but the re­ceipt he stuffed into the pocket of his tar­tan-lined jacket surely says it all. It re­ally must do.

Feed­ing the birds isn’t self­less. How can it be when we get so much joy from do­ing it? Of course, it’s help­ing them sur­vive the cold­est sea­son, but ac­tu­ally it can do a lot more for us. Last year, a sci­ence jour­nal pre­sented find­ings that sug­gested watch­ing birds makes peo­ple feel less anx­ious and depressed and they don’t have to be the showiest birds. To see any bird can make a dif­fer­ence. Gar­den birds are proof that even the small­est crea­tures can thrive when the con­di­tions are less than per­fect. Yes, win­ter can be tough – there is no shame in ad­mit­ting that, but it can be made in­fin­itely bet­ter by find­ing even just an hour in the day to sit, be still and see who is vis­it­ing your gar­den. If you nor­mally have the first cuppa while read­ing the pa­per, why not post­pone the news and take your tea back up­stairs into bed. Why? Be­cause there’s birds out­side your bed­room win­dow, too, and how of­ten do you watch them? I’ve been do­ing this more so lately, and been amazed by the way the pi­geons bal­ance on the tele­phone wires. In the early morn­ing, their sil­hou­ettes are per­fect against the sky. Re­frame the way you see the en­vi­ron­ment you in­habit. If you only have bird feed­ers in the back gar­den, why not put some in the front? If you’re in a flat, get your­self a small per­spex one that af­fixes to the win­dow. Per­haps you nor­mally buy meal­worms, why not peanuts, next time? As we head into a new year, for­get res­o­lu­tions. I’ve yet to meet any­one who has ac­tu­ally stuck to one. In­stead, make prom­ises to your­self. Stop try­ing so hard and just be. Feed the birds and let be­ing in their com­pany (even with a pane of glass in be­tween) bring you joy. Soon, it will be spring and the world will look dif­fer­ent once again.

Take time to en­joy a Robin eat­ing berries

Mixed seed, a great ‘starter food’

You can en­joy birds even closer to your house, with a well-placed feeder

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.