As the nights draw in and the weather gets colder, it’s not just us humans that require more to keep warm. The wildlife that commonly visits our gardens during summer gradually reduces in numbers throughout autumn and into winter, with only a few species of hardy birds staying behind. While others flee to warmer climates, many native species stick around and try to survive the harsh temperatures that the winter can bring.

But that’s not to say they don’t need our help. A recent study by the RSPB, in conjunction with 25 other wildlife organisations, has found that 60% of bird species in the UK have declined in recent years, largely due to a loss of habitat. This loss of habitat has also meant a reduced food source for birds, especially during winter where insects and bugs are scarce. And this is where we come in; by providing even a small but regular food source for our local wildlife, we could make a big difference to the future of a number of species in the UK.

No matter how large or small your outdoor space is, you can provide something for your local bird population and we’re here to offer some advice on how to do so.

Plants – Something that both you and the local wildlife can enjoy, plants are an easy way to provide for birds, especially if they have berries on them. A great source of food during winter, one larger bush could provide for a number of birds.

Insect-Friendly Areas – Insects are in short supply during winter so anything you can do to encourage them will be appreciated by birds. As well as eating insects themselves, many birds use them to feed their young and you can encourage insects with areas of long grass or even creating a log pile in one corner of your garden.

Nest Boxes – While most birds will be able to find their own home during the winter, or leave for warmer climes, some will stay and appreciate a warm, sheltered home. One nest box could provide a home for a mating pair and you can enjoy seeing their young when the weather improves.

Bird Tables – Suited to slightly larger gardens, a bird table not only provides a great feeding space for birds but it is something you can enjoy too. Looking out of your window on a cold winter’s day and seeing a selection of feeding birds is a lovely sight and you can be safe in the knowledge that you’re doing your bit.

Bird Feeders – If you have a smaller outdoor space, bird feeders are perfect. Suited to providing nuts and other larger feed, you’ll love seeing smaller birds hanging off throughout the winter months.

Seeds & Nuts – Providing the right bird food during the winter will help the local population flourish. Whole nuts or larger mixes are suitable for winter as they provide a lasting food source. Black sunflower seeds are high in oil content while peanuts are a great fat source. If you don’t want added mess in your garden, husked sunflower hearts are a good choice.

Fat Balls – The perfect choice for the winter months, fat balls provide a great source of high quality food. Depending on how many birds visit your garden, they should last a few days at least.

Doing even one of these things this winter will help your local birds to survive and hopefully thrive until the temperature turns again. Not only will this benefit the local wildlife, there is no greater sight than a garden full of birds.