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Nature and Wildlife

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Cold Weather and Hungry Birds

from our Nature and Wildlife Correspondent,
Sally Worby

Fallen leaves and other garden "rubbish" supports myriad invertebrate food for birds. When we 'tidy' this food source is taken away and birds can struggle to survive. Cold weather means birds need to eat more to survive the night. Birds' body temperatures are hotter than ours, but despite the wonderful insulation properties of feathers, long cold nights force birds to burn more energy.

Wild bird-food is fat-rich, providing lots of calories in a small volume, but what about disease? Bird flu is less likely to affect small garden birds than ducks, geese and chickens but other diseases can be passed from bird to bird at garden feeders.

Winter survival may depend on our generosity at bird tables. Remember to clean feeders and bird tables weekly with dilute bleach or washing soda and rinse well! Clean fresh water is also essential.

If you spot a dead bird it should be double wrapped in plastic bags and put in the black bin.

Moving the feeders a few metres each week prevents accumulation of infected droppings and helps stop disease transmission and spread. And remember to site feeders near cover to give small birds confidence to eat.

We love our little garden birds and they need us more than ever now. Enjoy!

Sally operates the Graceful Badger Forest School in Drayton Woods with Wilderwoods and Central Somerset Outdoor Learning Partnership. For more information click st.

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