Where to feed
It’s not only the types of food that tickle particular birds’ fancies, but also where they’re fed.
You may have noticed that dunnocks and wrens shy away from bird tables and hanging feeders.
Sprinkle crumbled fat balls and seed beneath shrubs for secretive and ground feeding birds. Smear fat mixtures into the cracks and crevices of branches or bark for treecreepers, nuthatches and woodpeckers. And don’t forget to clear feeders and feeding areas of snow after fresh falls as smaller birds can struggle to get through it.
If you can, it’s also worth moving bird tables and feeders around the garden every now and then. Not only does this reduce the build up of mess, it can also help prevent ambush predators like cats and sparrowhawks from becoming too familiar with the likely location of unwary prey.
Planting for birds
One of the most satisfying and hassle-free ways to feed birds in winter is to plan ahead and let nature provide.
Rowan produces a lasting crop of berries that in bumper years can see birds through for several months. They’re a favourite of mistle thrushes which will guard them jealously from other hungry visitors. Ivy is also a good plant to encourage, its late-ripening berries offering food through the colder months and its evergreen leaves providing the perfect larder for wrens to search out hibernating insects.