Bring birds to your garden in time for the Big Garden Birdwatch
January marks 40 years of the RSPB’s Big Garden Bird Watch. It all began in 1979 with a modest plan to provide something to occupy the society’s junior membership. But when Biddy Baxter gave it a mention on Blue Peter, the society was flooded with 34,000 requests to join in. And The Big Garden Birdwatch has been ruffling feathers ever since.
This year’s Big Garden Birdwatch takes place from 26-28 January. You can sign up for your free pack to join in here. Then all you need is a free morning, a view of your outside space, a large pot of tea and a bit of cake (we recommend seedcake if you’re really getting into the spirit of the thing) and an identifier for your garden birds. We’ve printed a nifty identifier for some of the most common garden birds in our January issue, which is on sale now (or buy a copy here). You can thank us later.
In the meantime, here’s a simple way to make a bird feeder to encourage more feathery fellas to your garden in preparation for the big day.
A pine cone makes a great natural base for a bird feeder, with an open structure that’s just the thing for stuffing full of nutritious and delicious titbits for our feathered friends during harsh, wintry weather
How to make your feeder
1 Collect medium to large pine cones. Don’t worry if they’re tightly closed – just bring them indoors for a few days or pop in the oven to encourage ‘blooming’.
2 Attach string to the tip of the pine cone, ready for hanging up.
3 Spread a layer of peanut butter, fat or suet over the cone, pressing in between the scales so it’s entirely covered. Place a mix of birdseed on a tray and roll the pine cone until well coated. Go for a general mix to encourage a variety of garden birds or choose something more specific to attract a particular species – niger seed, for example, is a favourite for goldfinches and greenfinches while peanuts are the snack of choice for blue tits, great tits and siskins.
4 Hang in a secluded part of the garden, near the shelter of a hedge or shrub to provide birds with a quick safe haven nearby if they need it.
5 Replenish once supply is depleted.