How to prepare your garden for autumn and winter birds
Providing natural food and shelter for garden birds can make a huge difference to species survival in the winter weather ahead. Our guide explains how to make your garden bird-friendly this autumn and winter.
Providing natural food for garden birds, in addition to keeping bird feeders well topped up, can make a huge difference to birds’ survival in the winter weather ahead.
Our wildlife guide explains how to attract birds to your garden in autumn and winter, plus easy crafts to make.
Stock up feeders
Refill feeders with a mix of high quality seed, fat and mealworms to help provide birds with energy during the colder months.
Sow green manure in the winter months to help wildlife thrive. (Getty Images)
Sow ‘green manures’, such as scorpion weed, into soils. These fast germinating plants smother weeds, which will benefit your garden and the visiting wildlife. If you plant them in time for them to flower, it will successfully feed bees and other pollinators with their nectar, and the later seeds will also provide birds with food during the “hungry gap” in late winter.
Wildflower meadows can also be sown now, ready for the next spring. These can include plants like bird’s foot trefoil, field scabious, ox-eye daisy and red clover. These meadows will feed insects, which in turn will feed garden birds.
Separate the perennial flowers
After flowering, it is useful to divide up the perennials such as hardy geraniums, heleniums, phlox and primulas. By spreading them out or giving them to friends and family, this creates new feeding places for nature.
By leaving seedheads, this will feed birds and other wildlife during the autumn and winter months. After your birds return to your garden once the weather grows colder, this harvest will largely be to their benefit.
Create a pond or birdbath
As well as planting, the more practical jobs can be completed to prepare fro autumn or winter. Birds use ponds/birdbaths for drinking and bathing throughout the year, and a wealth of other wildlife will also benefit. This does not have to be a massive project, as an upturned dustbin lid or old washing up bowl is just as useful.
Clean nest boxes
When the breeding season is over, towards the end of September, it is a good idea to clean out the nest boxes in your garden. Place the contents in your compost heap and use boiling water to clean out any parasites. After the box has dried out, replace the lid and hang it back up. Wrens and other small birds may use the box to keep warm during the winter. Remember to keep cleaning your bird feeders regularly.
Wildlife-friendly craft projects
On your next trip outside, keep an eye out for a nice sturdy log. With a few quick drills and screws, the old tree part can become the feeding platform for garden birds. It’s the perfect project for getting you outside using your hands, with the added value of offering support for local wildlife.
Most of us have kitchen staples that are also loved by birds - find out how to use yours up and make fat balls for your garden birds.
For those who love watching garden birds, these inexpensive feeders will be a joy to hang around the garden. They're simple and fun to make and the birds love them.