Welcome to 2019! Have you made any resolutions? My big one for this year is to appreciate and help wildlife more, and I’ll be helping you to do the same! So much so that I’ve set aside my first Q Gossip article to look at what we can do to help our garden critters!
It isn’t just pleasurable to attract wildlife into our gardens and watch them go about their business, but it’s also important for them. Wildlife need sources of food and shelter, and breeding sites. Welcoming in nature will also help you if you’re gardening organically, with beneficial insects feeding on any garden nasties! Attracting more pollinating insects will also improve the crops on your fruit and vegetables.
You can attract wildlife by means of the plants you choose to grow, by offering habitats for wildlife to breed and live in, and by gardening in slightly different ways than what you’re used to. So, let’s start off your 2019 resolutions by looking at our feathered friends, and see what you can do month by month to give them a happy life in your garden!
In the months to come, we will also look at bees, butterflies, and even bats!
It’s gonna be a chilly month, and birds will be a little more confident as they scour your garden for a food source. It’s important to keep bird tables well-stocked with fresh produce. Think about energy-rich foods that give birds a bit of boost in the winter months. Food mixes that include suet pellets are great as they are energy-rich, as is peanut butter. We also love peanut butter, after all!
Check out these Nut Pecker Bird Feeders with Peanut Butter that have just come out:
Did you know you can also give the birds your leftovers? Leftover Christmas cake and pudding is great, and packed with fruit and fats! Just not alcohol-soaked puddings though…!
Bird baths are also good for giving the birds that spa experience, but can be an important water source too. Keep bird baths topped up and free of ice, either by using a bird-friendly de-icer or filling with kettle water. A tennis ball in the water can also prevent water surfaces from icing up.
January is also a good time to get planting shrubs and trees, which will establish well during their winter dormant period. Berrying plants such as Cotoneaster and Pyracantha give birds a vital food source. Dense, thorny bushes can also provide birds with shelter and spots for nesting. Choose from our ever-growing plant range on the QVC website!
You’ll start to notice mornings getting lighter, and the sound of birdsong will be back, hopefully enticing you out of bed and off to work. The birds will be busy too, marking out territories for the mating and nesting season.
It’ll still be quite cold though, so take care to keep food sources topped up, the birds will need to be fit and healthy to breed. Try to incorporate feeders for different sizes of bird and different species. Static tables and feeders are great, but bigger birds can sometimes hog the buffet! This Wildlife World National Trust Swing Seat actually swings freely – making it difficult for larger birds to access, but smaller hungry birds can easily get their feed.
During the cold, snowy periods, it’s also a great idea to clear a patch in the ground so birds can scavenge for worms and such!
From now onwards, avoid putting out large chunks of food, as adults may try to feed them to fledglings. Switch back to bird food mixes and titbits the size of pellets. This Premium High Energy Bird Food from Richard Jackson is full of nutrients and energy, and can attract a whole host of species to the garden!
You can also mix things up with a few niche ingredients, try small grated cheese, oatmeal or even live food, such as mealworms. Thankfully we don’t sell live food on QVC (yet!), imagine the panic in the studio!
I’d also advise you to set up a few different food stations in your garden, such as static, swinging and wall feeders, perhaps even a window feeder such as this Dew Drop Window Feeder from Wildlife World.
Don’t forget that some birds such as blackbirds and thrushes prefer ground feeding. As long as you don’t have inquisitive cats, you can scatter beneath your bird tables too.
Nesting will soon start with abandon, so why not incorporate a space for this to happen in your garden? Hang a nest box like this Wildlife World Dew Drop Nest Box in a sheltered corner, ideally north facing. Make sure it faces your window, so you can keep an eye on the new family and their comings and goings. Boxes hung on walls tend to be better protected from cats and predators than those on branches.
This month, sit back and enjoy our QVC shows, you can see when they’re coming up here. We will have so many colourful and interesting flowers that will provide a natural source of food for birds, bees and butterflies.
If you’ve established your garden as a great food source, then you’ll probably be seeing birds aplenty by now, as they busily build nests with twigs and leaves. Help the birds out by placing scraps of moss and twigs by your feeders, think of it as a little second-hand furniture shop.
Keep bird feeders topped up, and ensure hygiene at all times, cleaning them out from time to time using a 5% disinfectant solution. Keep a watch for ice on bird baths too.
March is a good month to plant potted plants, as the soil begins to warm and plants are still mostly dormant and are easier to move. Remember to incorporate a mix of berrying plants and nectar-rich flowers in lovely bright colours!
I hope this gives you some help in preparing your garden for our feathered friends this year. I think you’ll soon be a qualified bird spotter. Why not let us know which birds you manage to attract, we’d love to see some photos and hear about any other tips you might have!