Yes, I know, wow he’s quite big and could well be the Godzilla of Robins:) And, as I watched ‘Miss Potter’ again on the telly the other night, this is also an excuse for posting some of my favourite characters in an unashamedly post-Christmas/pre-New Year’s Eve indulgent orgy of cuteness…
With it being winter and all, and with the weather being particularly freezing these last few weeks, it can not only cause problems and difficulties for humans, but for animals too – particularly birds. Everyone knows that it’s kind to leave some food out for them, but it’s also important to leave out the right sort of food, too – as many birds and other animals are not only allergic to some types of food – but in some cases it can be lethal.
The official RSPB advice for feeding birds includes the following points:
Put out feed regularly, especially in severe weather. Set up a bird table and use high calorie seed mixes. This can also be used to put out kitchen scraps such as animal fats, grated cheese and porridge oats.
Put out hanging feeders for black sunflower seeds, sunflower hearts, sunflower-rich mixes or unsalted peanuts.
Ensure a supply of fresh water every day. If it is very cold use tepid water but DO NOT use any antifreeze products.
Put out fruit, such as apples and pears, for blackbirds, song thrushes and other members of the thrush family.
Food bars or fat hung up or rubbed into the bark of trees is a great help for treecreepers, goldcrests and many other species.
Put up nest boxes to provide roost sites for the smaller birds. They will then be used for breeding later in the year.
Leftovers from meals can also provide a welcome boost for wildlife – cake crumbs, pastry and cheese are all readily eaten by wild birds.
Some of the suggestions are fairly obvious but still come as a surprise because day-to-day most people don’t think about them.
For instance, have a thought for the plight of fish and other aquatic animals when ponds freeze over, but be very careful when removing the ice as breaking it up or pouring hot water onto it can kill the fish and other animals underneath. The RSPCA recommend that you first gently make a small hole in the ice with warm/hot water and exercise extreme awareness so that you do not scold the creatures underneath.
Also, please DO NOT let your dogs anywhere near iced-over ponds, lakes or streams etc. if you can help it. This time of year there are always tragic stories of pets dogs drowning or even their owners who dive in the water to rescue them. Of course, sometimes – especially when dog owners don’t realise there’s any iced-over water nearby and the dog goes running off suddenly – these are tragic accidents which can never have been forseen.
Bonfires are popular this time of year, too and it’s also imperative that you check through the branches, twigs, undergrowth and ground/area where you are going to have bonfire immediately before you light it as, for creatures like headhogs, for instance, which may of course be curled up in a ball and difficult to spot straight away.