Decorations are not just for christmas
By Suzanne Kelly
Our Christmas decorations should all be down now, but here’s a fun and easy project to make a decorative wreath to hang outside to feed birds.
Climate change, disappearing green spaces and the use of pesticides are all making survival in the winter months hard on our wildlife. Organisations such as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds recommend that we feed birds throughout the year, saying “Although winter feeding benefits birds most, food shortages can occur at any time of the year. By feeding all year-round, you’ll give them a better chance to survive food shortages whenever they may occur.”
If you have a metal or plastic feeder, it is crucial that you clean it thoroughly at least once a week. Otherwise, you may be spreading illnesses among birds rather than helping them survive the winter. Bacteria, parasites and fungal infections can all harm birds if their food is contaminated. Ideally a supply of fresh water should be available for drinking and bathing too: feeders and birdbaths must be placed so that cats cannot access them. Cat owners are encouraged to put bells on their pets’ collars. Pet cats that access the outdoors are thought to kill millions of birds in the UK every year. If the food you leave in your bird feeder is not completely eaten within two days, put less food out – you don’t want to attract rodents with the unwanted food.
This bird feeder wreath will eliminate some of the above problems – the suet will keep food fresh; it can be hung high and away from cats, and its shape means it is less likely for the food to be contaminated by droppings as compared to a flat table feeder for instance.
Illustration from Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts
The Sussex Wildlife Trust shared this great idea from Wildlife Watch for an attractive, useful bird feeder and it makes a good family project.
(A link to full instructions can be found here).
1. Buy a pre-made wreath made of branches and twigs, or make your own by twisting twigs and branches into a wreath shape; secure with garden wire.
2. In a bowl mix lard or suet with bird seed, adding if you like some grated cheese and/or breadcrumbs. Smear this paste onto 6-10 large pinecones.
3. Attach the pinecones to the wreath with the garden wire, carefully folding any sharp edges away so that neither you nor birds can be injured. If you are concerned, you can use gardening twine in place of wire.
4. Hang your wreath securely in a high safe place, taking care to do so safely.
5. Refresh the pinecones with extra suet/seed mix as needed.
This should attract birds to your garden and help safely feed them during the winter months – or all year-round.
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