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Bird lovers urged to help garden visitors beat the big freeze

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: January 02, 2014

Wildlife lovers are being encouraged to put water and food out for garden birds during the latest cold snap

Wildlife lovers are being encouraged to put water and food out for garden birds during the latest cold snap

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Conservationists have urged West Country wildlife lovers to fully stock their feeders to help birds through the winter.

With temperatures dipping below zero at night and in single figures during the day, the RSPB has encouraged people to provide high energy foods and water to aid resident populations.

Tony Whitehead, from the RSPB in the South West, said: "The drop in temperatures across the UK will have been a big shock to birds' systems after spending the past couple of months with few worries in terms of food availability. Up to now natural food sources have been readily available and water has been easy to come by. Now, as temperatures are falling, birds will need all the help they can get to survive the winter."

The RSPB suggests calorie-rich foods like mixed seed, nyjer seed, fatballs, suet sprinkles, sunflower seed and good quality peanuts, as well as kitchen scraps, like mild grated cheese, rice and porridge oats.

A supply of water is also essential for bathing and preening. In freezing conditions birds become more dependent on water provided in gardens, since many natural sources are frozen over.

The most effective way to keep water from freezing is by using a light ball which, moved by even a gentle breeze, will keep a small amount of water, ice free. Alternatively, Mr Whitehead said, people could pour on warm water to melt the ice.

Mr Whitehead added: "With the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch coming up, keeping your feeders, tables and bird baths topped-up will not only make sure your garden visitors are well fed and looked after, it'll also encourage them into your garden just in time for you to take part in the world's biggest wildlife survey."

The RSPB's annual Big Garden Birdwatch is being held on January 25-26. People are asked to spend just one hour at any time over Big Garden Birdwatch weekend noting the highest number of each bird species seen in their gardens or local park at any one time. They then submit their results to the RSPB, online at www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch or in the post.

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