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Winter Diners

2nd of February 2004

This has been the worst Christmas I have ever known for holly berries. Of the 7 or 8 bushes that regularly berry, only the bush by our entrance had any berries left by the first of December. They were all on the ends of branches and in places that the blackbirds found hard to reach. All of the bushes had been loaded with berries but the dry weather and the difficulty in finding worms in the hard ground forced the birds to eat the berries much earlier than usual. Bad luck for me, but their need was greater than mine. The worrying aspect is that there will be no berries available if the ground becomes solid with frost and worms are once more off the menu. Our son made a lovely bird table for one of his GCSEs and I think it will be a lifesaver this year. I am trying to give the birds a good selection of foods, given in a variety of ways.
Blackbirds cant manage to get peanuts from hanging nets or cages, but they will go on to a bird table; however they really prefer to pick food up from the ground. I always sweep the crumbs from the breadboard out onto the grass at the edge of the terrace, and a young female black bird, probably from a late brood, soon cottoned on and took up residence in a nearby rhododendron bush. As food got scarce I started to put out extra seeds and bits of pastry etc. for her. She is no fool and has gradually got tamer and now she drops her wings and begs for food as if I am her mum! I now top up the peanut holder, put food on the table, and on the ground and then sit by the patio windows and have my breakfast watching the birds have theirs. A robin, a dunnock, and 4 or 5 Chaffinches all prefer to feed on the ground, while a nuthatch is king of the bird table and the great tits prefer the peanut cage.
A great variety of bird food is available these days, you can even buy live meal worms, but do remember to serve it in different ways. A birdbath is essential to keep feathers in tiptop condition during cold nights, as well as for drinking. With food in short supply you could encourage some new birds into your garden, and they often make better viewing than the TV! Wendy

This page is edited by Tony

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