While you eagerly await your first glimpse of a butterfly in 2022, why not enjoy other wildlife and take part in the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch.

Spend an hour counting the birds you see in your garden, from your balcony or in your local park between 28th to 30th January, then share what you saw with the RSPB. This is a great activity to take part in as a way of getting outdoors, immersing yourself in nature and supporting vital survey research that will help identify declining species that need our help.

Wildlife experts based in Shropshire, CJ Wildlife, share their top tips on how to attract birds to your garden and what species to look out for over the weekend and beyond.

Get your garden ready.

Winter sees natural supplies of berries and seeds from hedgerows and shrubs disappear, plus frosty and hard ground makes foraging difficult for our garden birds. That’s why you’ll see a lot more birds in your garden at this time of year, as they spend most of the available daylight hours looking for a constant source of food to ensure their survival.

  • High calorie food is key - Did you know that many birds will shiver as a way of keeping warm? That’s why every meal counts at this time of year. Your bird food needs to be rich in calories and protein to allow surplus food to be stored as fat during the day and then burnt off during the night.
  • Protect your small garden birds - There are usually lots of competition at the feeders, from garden birds to larger birds. To help allow smaller birds to feed in peace, you can purchase feeders with a guardian that will prevent larger birds and mammals, such as squirrels, from raiding your feeders.
  • Make your garden inviting – Put out a range of food and feeders, but you must ensure all feeders are topped up starting at least a few days prior to your count. This will allow time for birds to recognise your garden as a reliable food source and frequent it more. But don’t forget, your offerings will be appreciated at any time!
  • Different food for different species – Put out food all around your garden so that the different species can benefit. Most birds are happy to feed from hanging feeders, but Robins and Blackbirds prefer to feed from the ground. Smaller birds will be grateful of suet foods rubbed into the bark of trees to provide a “feeding strip” of fat crumbs which are ideal for Long-tailed Tits, Treecreepers and Goldcrests who seldom dare to “mix it” with Great Tits and Starlings at the feeders. 
  • Submit your results – It’s really important to send any recordings to the RSPB once you’ve completed your garden bird watch. Not only is it a great way of monitoring the population health of our wild birds, you’ll also be supporting our birds during winter when they need it the most.

Species to keep an eye on.

Over the years, we’ve sadly seen a gradual decline in some of our most popular garden birds across the UK. It’s really important we keep a close eye on all birds and record any species that we see, but especially those we’re seeing less of in recent years.

We’ve pulled together a brief list based on last years garden bird watch results, so you can look our for our more elusive feathered friends.

  • Greenfinch
  • Chaffinch
  • Collared Doves
  • Song thrush
  • Starlings

Feed the birds!

Providing bird foods that are super high in calories is the best way to help and the highest concentration of fat and oils are present in suet and nut-based products.

  • Our Peanut Cakes are based on a mix of high-quality suet and peanut flour providing over 600 calories in every 100 grams, making each mouthful a vital energy boost. They come in lots of different shapes, sizes and even flavours!
  • Ideal bird seed mixes are those that are efficient to eat including the all-round staple of sunflower hearts. We specialise in de-husked mixes allowing birds to eat everything and not waste valuable time and energy getting to the nutritious core inside.
  • Whilst it’s vital to put out food, it’s also just as important to put out clean fresh water for your birds to drink and bathe in all year round. Clean feathers increase insulation, so it is part of their daily routine, even when it’s a cold wintery bath!

Butterfly Conservation supporters can save 10% on products from CJ Wildlife when using the discount code UKBCM19 on www.birdfood.co.uk

To find out more about the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch, click here.