1. Provide clean, fresh water: As temperatures continue to drop, ensure a reliable and unfrozen water source is available for the birds. Check and refill bird baths regularly and consider using a small ball to stop the water from freezing over. Remember to create a small slope in and out of the water, using small stones, to keep the birds safe.
2. Plant winter berries and fruits: You can start growing plants which provide winter berries, like holly and ivy in the winter, before the ground is too hard. November is also a great time to plant fruit trees in the garden. Apple, pear, and cherry trees can be planted now, and will start growing on cue in early Spring. You can also plant blackcurrants, blackberries, strawberries and gooseberries, ready for the springtime to provide plenty of food for your family, the birds, and insects.
3. Create sheltered areas: As winter approaches, create sheltered areas in your garden by strategically placing dense shrubs, evergreens, and hedges. These spots offer protection from cold winds and provide safe roosting places for birds. You can also gather fallen branches, leaves, and twigs to create brush piles in a corner of your garden. You can also ‘donate’ your Christmas tree to wildlife after the festive season so wildlife can use it in your garden for shelter from the cold.
4. Garden maintenance: You may feel the itch to start maintaining your garden while it is not too cold but avoid excessive pruning during this time. Leaving seedheads and plant debris can provide food and shelter for birds throughout the winter. Delay major pruning until early spring to ensure you're not removing potential resources for the birds. A good use of time is to clear up excess fallen leaves from any ponds, as too many leaves can cause issues with water quality.
5. Plant trees and shrubs: If we get some cold but dry weather, these are the perfect conditions to plant new trees and shrubs (avoid planting trees in waterlogged soil!). You can plant bare root blackthorn, dog rose and elder (among many others) from November onwards, as long as the ground isn’t frozen. These trees and shrubs will do wonders for wildlife in the following years to come!
By implementing these actions in your garden during November and December, you'll continue to offer a hospitable environment for songbirds as they navigate the challenges of the colder months. Your efforts will go a long way in supporting their well-being and survival during this time of year.
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