As the seasons shift from summer to autumn, you’ll notice a lot of changes in your garden… and the birds will too. The shorter days and colder weather will kick-start many bird migration journeys, which is why it’s more important than ever to look after the ones which have decided to stay. In this autumn bird care guide, we’ll look into the ways we can support birds during this season, from food and roosting boxes to ensuring a reliable water supply.
Finding food in autumn
One of the best things for birds about autumn is having the chance to enjoy nature’s bounty. Brambles and bushes burst to life, laden with berries and fruit. Think about introducing some berry-bearing plants to the garden (if you’re willing to spare a few, of course!) The birds will thank you for it.
There are also a variety of trees and shrubs that will provide birds with vital food and shelter throughout the colder months. Plant crab apples, rowans, cotoneasters, pyracantha and other fruiting plants. Be sure to complement their diet at this time of the year with a complete bird seed which supplies essential fats and protein. They’ll need to build up their strength for the chilly winter.
While some of our garden birds move south, others arrive in their place, seeking the relative mild sanctuary of the British Isles for their winter stay. Expect to see Swans, Geese, Redwings, Waxwings, Bramblings and Fieldfares all arrive on our shores to escape the colder weather elsewhere. This unusual time will give you plenty of new things to see if you’re an avid birdwatcher, so be sure to thank your new guests for flying through by leaving out plenty of food and water.
Keep the good habit of leaving out fresh water every day, like you did in summer. Although it’s not as hot, it doesn’t mean the birds need it any less; it’s essential for the health of their skin. Be sure to replace water daily, especially later in the season where there’s a risk of frost overnight.
Birds often roost in trees and hedges to give them protection from predators, but they also use empty nest boxes and roosting pouches to insulate themselves from the cold and provide shelter from the rain. As the weather is starting to turn, make sure your garden has plenty of dense hedges, shrubs and trees where your feathered friends can stop over for the night well protected.
Walls, trellis and even trees clothed in ivy and climbers give good leafy cover for some species like little owls, while other birds prefer to roost together in boxes to preserve their body warmth. Clean out nest boxes, wash them well and disinfect them. That way, they’re ready for birds to roost in. But don’t worry if birds don’t use them for shelter; at least they’re ready for the next lot of chicks.