Untrimmed Hedgerows a Vital Source of Winter Food

As we wake up to the season’s first frosts and start the count down to Christmas, there’s no doubt that winter is fast upon us.

Animals that hibernate, such as the hedgehog have hopefully found themselves a snug winter home, which leaves our overwintering species of birds and mammals, as well as millions of birds that seek refuge here from overseas, to tough it out in our countryside and gardens.

As some sources of food get harder to find, birds and other creatures turn to the seeds and berries of our trees and hedgerows to help them through.

Where hedges are left untrimmed, they provide a vital source of food to help sustain our wildlife through the tough, leaner months ahead.

Those farmers, landowners and homeowners who leave at least some of their non-road-facing hedges untrimmed until well after Xmas (February) – when the birds and small mammals would have had the benefit of the berries they produce, are giving nature the very best possible Xmas present – a source of food.

We can also all do our bit to help in our gardens, as many kind people already do, by putting out supplementary food in bird feeders.

One of the best all round foods is sunflower hearts or sunflower chips, many types of bird species enjoy the seeds (goldfinches, greenfinches, great tits, blue tits etc) and they provide a great source of high value nutrition.

Another helpful food to put out in feeders is high quality suet fat balls (best without nets so no beaks or legs get caught in them). As the name suggests, the ‘fat’ in the fat balls provide an important source of ‘quick’ energy for birds in the colder months. Plus, they are loved by many species such as great tit, blue tit and, if you’re lucky you may also get nuthatches and woodpecker.

In really hard weather we may also see larger, farmland birds come closer to our gardens. Redwing (looks like a small Thrush) and Fieldfare (about the size of a wood pigeon) both love apple chopped into small rings – and in conditions like last year’s snows, putting out food like this can be a life saver.

For more information on best supplementary foods for birds or wildlife friendly hedgerows, try the RSPB links below:

http://ww2.rspb.org.uk/images/englishhedgerows1_tcm9-133255.pdf