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Page last updated at 12:18 GMT, Monday, 19 October 2009 13:18 UK
Feeding our wild garden visitors
By Heather Driscoll-Woodford
BBC Surrey

Feeders and bird tables can be topped up with calorie-rich foods

The RSPB is urging you to spare a thought for your local wildlife, as the days grow colder and available food for our garden visitors becomes more scarce.

Their Feed The Birds Day falls on 24 October, which is the date the clocks turn back and Winter starts.

The day highlights the fact that our feathered garden friends need help more than ever at this time of year.

The society has various suggestions of ways you can help and attract wildlife.

The day highlights the fact that our garden wildlife needs our help

Richard Bashford, Feed The Birds Day manager, said "We think that everyone will easily be able to find something they can do to help birds regardless of the outdoor space they have."

"It doesn't matter if it's a large or a small garden, community garden, balcony or allotment, there are options for everyone."

In the harshest of British winters our gardens will attract a wide variety of birds, including blackbirds, song thrushes, and even waxwings who come all the way from Scandinavia.

And there are many ways you can help your local birds through the cold time ahead.

The charity recommends setting out feeders and bird tables, with a range of goodies.

Chris Packham
What I love about feeding birds is you can see the good you are doing. The way the birds will just pile into your garden looking for food tells you how important it is to them.
Chris Packham, RSPB Vice President and BBC Springwatch presenter

Calorie-rich foods such as Nyger seed will help goldfinches, while mixed seed will attract house sparrows, and fruit will help blackbirds.

Apparently even putting out kitchen scraps such as grated cheese will help wrens and cooked/uncooked unsalted bacon will be enjoyed by blue tits.

And of course, no garden would be complete without the odd fat ball dangling from a branch or window latch.

Importantly, keeping an ice-free supply of fresh water in a shallow bowl or trough will allow them to drink and bathe.

And it's not just food and water you can put out to help wildlife.

The RSPB is also encouraging you to plant berry-bearing shrubs and fruit trees, which, once matured will provide another source of food for birds.

Blackbirds and thrushes will eat the fruit while other birds such as robins and starlings will feast on the insects that thrive on them.

RSPB's top five wildlife gardening tips
  • Plant native plants such as hawthorn, ivy and honeysuckle that will provide berries in the winter for adult birds, and insects for young birds in spring.
  • Make a log pile - it will be the ideal place for insects, fungi, mosses and lichens.
  • Provide an insect home - insects will spend the winter in these.
  • Install nesting boxes for birds such as sparrows, winter hibernation places for hedgehogs, and roosting boxes for bats.
  • Create a water feature such as a pond or bog garden as much wildlife relies on a regular supply of freshwater.

The RSPB's Homes for Wildlife can give you tips and ideas on managing your home and garden for the benefit of wildlife.

You can register online for free by visiting www.rspb.org.uk/hfw

Your local wildlife events

Farnham Heath RSPB Reserve

Rowan, holly and apples are a great source of food

You can find out more about feeding birds in your garden by going to Farnham Heath RSPB Reserve on the 24 October from 10.30am - 3.30pm.

They are holding a 'Birds' tastiest treats' trail and you can make apple feeders to take home. Meet at the Rural Life Centre. Find out more here .

Wyevale Wild Bird Care Week

Your local branch of Wyevale Garden Centre is joining in by holding its own Wild Bird Care Week from Monday 19 to Sunday 25 October.

They will show you how to make your garden into a haven for wildlife and give you tips and advice about feeding garden birds

They promise fun free activities for children too, including a bird modelling competition.

There are several branches in Surrey taking part, including Windlesham, Woking, Dorking, Alfold, Lower Morden and Weybridge.

To find the address of your nearest branch and for more information click here .

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