“I heard a bird sing in the dark of December. A magical thing. And sweet to remember. We are nearer to Spring than we were in September.” ―
Winter officially begins on the 21st of December, marked by the winter solstice. Where we will see the shortest day when the sun rises late and sets early. As we approach winter life can become harder for wildlife, the shorter days mean finding food in daylight hours can be difficult.
Coupled with autumn migration and hibernation taking place. It’s easy to think that your garden may be devoid of life during winter. However, winter provides an excellent opportunity to get a closer look at our resident birds, and to spot some winter visitors too!
This December we’ll guide you through your Happy Beaks garden. With birds to spot, our top gardening tips, this months winner of #SnappyBeaks and much more!
Garden Birds to Spot in December
Perhaps the most famous of all birds associated with the winter months, robins are regularly used as a symbol for Christmas and all things festive. European migrant robins join our residents in winter, in search of seed and energy rich food. Amazingly, robins are one of the only birds that continue to sing throughout the winter months!
A favourite winter visitor to the UK, the fieldfare can be spotted around the British countryside from October onwards. These large colourful thrushes are recognizable from their blue-grey head and rump, rusty brown back, speckled brown breast, and black tail. Their favourite foods are insects, worms, and berries, but they will peck away at any fruit you’ve got laid on your bird table, or any seed mix you’ve got on offer.
Easily mistaken for great tits, coal tits can be told apart by a white stripe running down the back of the head and light brown flanks. Feeders filled with energy-rich foods such as peanuts are a sure way to encourage them into your garden this winter.
Another bird from the thrush family is the redwing. Often mistaken for its cousin above, the fieldfare, the redwing can be identified from its speckled breast, red flanks, brown back, and white eye stripe.
Gardening in December
Cold bright days are the ideal days to get a few jobs done around the garden. Remember to wrap up warm and with the nights closing in sooner it’s an excuse to get back inside by the warmth of the fire.
Weekend Garden Tasks
- Plant soft fruit bushes and winter prune any apple and pear trees.
- Get your seed potatoes ready for chitting in the New Year.
- Continue to clear leaves and keep garden paths tidy.
- Clean and clear out your nesting boxes so that your garden birds have somewhere warm and dry to take shelter on cold winter nights.
- Ensure they have a constant supply of both food and fresh water.
- Feeders will need to be cleaned regularly to prevent the spread of disease.
We love seeing your photos. Each month we plan to showcase some of the best photos out there, of birds in the garden and home, and give you a chance to win a prize in the process.
How to Help Garden Birds in Winter
As we go into the winter months the weather tends to plummet. With ice and snow often spreading across the country. We can all do our bit to ensure our garden birds are looked after with plenty of food and fresh water.
There are all sorts of things you can do to keep the blue tits, finches and warblers happy. Here are some basic tips.
- Mornings are an important time for birds in the winter, as they look to recover the energy they lost in the night. So try and get up early to fill any feeders.
- Always make sure any supply of water is in a liquid state. Never use an antifreeze based product to defrost bird baths as this can poison birds.
- Consider putting up a nesting box to give smaller birds a roost site. If you install one at the start of the winter, it will still be used for breeding later on.
Read our blog to find out more ‘HOW TO HELP GARDEN BIRDS WHEN IT’S COLD‘